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of the 



Murray N. Rothbard 

Edited with an Introduction by Thomas E. Woods , Jr 

The Betrayal of the 
American Right 

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The Betrayal of the 
American Right 

Murray N. Rothbard 

Edited with an Introduction by 
Thomas E. Woods, Jr. 

von Mises 


Copyright © 2007 Ludwig von Mises Institute 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any man- 
ner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of reprints 
in the context of reviews. For information write the Ludwig von Mises 
Institute, 518 West Magnolia Avenue, Auburn, Alabama 36832 U.S.A.; 

ISBN: 978-1-933550-13-8 

To the memory of 
Howard Homan Buffett , 
Frank Chodorov, 
and the Old Right 


Introduction by Thomas E. Woods, Jr ix 

Preface to the 1991 Revision by Murray N. Rothbard xxi 

1. Tvo Rights, Old and New 1 

2. Origins of the Old Right I: Early Individualism 3 

3. Origins of the Old Right II: The Tory Anarchism 

of Mencken and Nock 9 

4. The New Deal and the Emergence of the Old Right 23 

5. Isolationism and the Foreign New Deal 33 

6. World War II: The Nadir 53 

7. The Postwar Renaissance I: Libertarianism 65 

8. The Postwar Renaissance II: Politics and Foreign Policy ... 85 

9. The Postwar Renaissance III: Libertarians and 

Foreign Policy 103 

10. The Postwar Renaissance IV: Swansong of the Old Right . . 117 

11. Decline of the Old Right 127 

12. National Review and the Triumph of the New Right 147 

13. The Early 1960s: From Right to Left 173 

14. The Later 1960s: The New Left 191 

Bibliography 207 

Index 217 



I t is a cliche of publishing to observe, when a book appears 
before the public years after it was first written, that it is more 
relevant now than ever. But it is difficult to think of how else 
The Betrayal of the American Right can be described. Murray N. 
Rothbard chronicles the emergence of an American right wing 
that gave lip service to free-market principles and “limited govern- 
ment,” but whose first priority, for which it was willing to sacrifice 
anything else, was military interventionism around the world. 
That sounds familiar, to be sure, but as Rothbard shows, it is nei- 
ther recent nor anomalous. It goes back to the very beginnings of 
the organized conservative movement in the 1950s. 

Since this book is likely to reach beyond Rothbard’s traditional 
audience, an initial word about the author is in order. Murray N. 
Rothbard was a scholar and polymath of such extraordinary pro- 
ductivity as almost to defy belief. His Man, Economy , and State, a 
1,000-page treatise on economic principles, was one of the great 
contributions to the so-called Austrian School of economics. For a 
New Liberty became the standard libertarian manifesto. In The 
Ethics of Liberty Rothbard set out the philosophical implications of 
the idea of self-ownership. He told the story of colonial America 
in his four-volume Conceived in Liberty. His America's Great Depres- 
sion, now in a fifth edition, used the explanatory power of the Aus- 
trian theory of the business cycle to show that monetary interven- 
tionism, rather than “capitalism,” was to blame for that catastro- 
phe. He also wrote a great many groundbreaking articles. To name 
just two: “Toward a Reconstruction of Utility and Welfare Eco- 
nomics” laid out a distinctly Austrian approach to the contentious 
area of welfare economics, and “Law, Property Rights, and Air 


The Betrayal of the American Right 


Pollution” may be the best brief Austrian contribution to the study 
of law and economics. In addition to his 25 books and three thou- 
sand articles, which spanned several disciplines, Rothbard also 
taught economics, edited two academic journals and several popu- 
lar periodicals, wrote movie reviews, and carried on a mountain of 
correspondence with a diverse array of American intellectuals. 

Even this overview of Rothbard’s work cannot do justice to his 
legendary productivity. But we learn a great deal about Murray N. 
Rothbard from a simple fact: more Rothbard books have appeared 
since his death than most college professors publish in a lifetime. 
Two volumes of An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic 
Thought, which Rothbard had been working on at the time of his 
death, were released in 1995. The Logic of Action (1997) consisted of 
a thousand pages of Rothbard’s scholarly articles, now conve- 
niently available for the general public. A History of Money and 
Banking in the United States (2002) brought together much of 
Rothbard’s important work in monetary history, much of which 
had previously been available only in scholarly journals or as chap- 
ters in books long out of print. It may as well have been a brand 
new Rothbard book. 

It wasn’t only Rothbard’s scholarly work that was assembled 
into handsome volumes and made available for general consump- 
tion; his popular writing began to appear in new collections as 
well. Making Economic Sense (1995) collected a hundred of Roth- 
bard’s shorter economic articles in a book that can instruct and 
entertain beginner and specialist alike. A 20,000-word article 
Rothbard had written for a small-circulation investment newslet- 
ter became the 1995 Center for Libertarian Studies monograph 
Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy. The Irrepressible 
Rothbard (2000) assembled some of Rothbard’s contributions to the 
Rothbard-Rockwell Report of the 1990s, where we encounter the 
master at his funniest and, at times, his most scathing. 

The present book, however, consists of material being made 
available to the public for the very first time. The manuscript was 
written in the 1970s, as Rothbard points out in the Preface, and went 
through periodic edits and additions over the years as publication 
opportunities arose. Each time, though, unforeseen circumstances 



interfered with the book’s release, and so it is finally appearing only 
now, under the Mises Institute’s imprint. 

To be sure, Rothbard had written published articles on the Old 
Right: in the Journal of Libertarian Studies, Continuum , and the 
Rothbard-Rockwell Report, among other venues. But here he tells the 
fall story, from the point of view of someone who was not only a 
witness to these events but also an important participant. 

What was this Old Right, anyway? Rothbard describes it as a 
diverse band of opponents of the New Deal at home and interven- 
tionism abroad. More a loose coalition than a self-conscious 
“movement,” the Old Right drew inspiration from the likes of 
H.L. Mencken and Albert Jay Nock, and featured such writers, 
thinkers, and journalists as Isabel Paterson, Rose Wilder Lane, 
John T. Flynn, Garet Garrett, Felix Morley, and the Chicago Tri- 
bune's Colonel Robert McCormick. They did not describe or think 
of themselves as conservatives: they wanted to repeal and over- 
throw, not conserve. 

A 1992 Rothbard retrospective on the Old Right drew out its 

If we know what the Old Right was against, what were they 
for ? In general terms, they were for a restoration of the lib- 
erty of the Old Republic, of a government strictly limited to 
the defense of the rights of private property. In the concrete, 
as in the case of any broad coalition, there were differences of 
opinion within this overall framework. But we can boil down 
those differences to this question: how much of existing gov- 
ernment would you repeal? How far would you roll govern- 
ment back? 

The minimum demand which almost all Old Rightists 
agreed on, which virtually defined the Old Right, was total 
abolition of the New Deal, the whole kit and kaboodle of the 
welfare state, the Wagner Act, the Social Security Act, going 
off gold in 1933, and all the rest. Beyond that, there were 
charming disagreements. Some would stop at repealing the 
New Deal. Others would press on, to abolition of Woodrow 
Wilson’s New Freedom, including the Federal Reserve Sys- 
tem and especially that mighty instrument of tyranny, the 
income tax and the Internal Revenue Service. Still others, 

The Betrayal of the American Right 


extremists such as myself, would not stop until we repealed 
the Federal Judiciary Act of 1789, and maybe even think the 
unthinkable and restore the good old Articles of Confedera- 
tion. 1 

In addition to being a history of the Old Right, this book is the 
closest thing to an autobiography of this extraordinary man that 
readers can expect to see. It is not just a history of the Old Right, 
or of the anti-interventionist tradition in America. It is the story — 
at least in part — of Rothbard’s own political and intellectual devel- 
opment: the books he read, the people he met, the friends he 
made, the organizations he joined, and so much more. 

Rothbard’s discussion of his intellectual evolution begins with 
his days as a young boy and carries through his time in Ludwig von 
Mises’s New York seminar (from which so many important liber- 
tarian thinkers would emerge), his early writing career and his lib- 
ertarian activism, all the way through his interaction with the New 
Left in the 1960s. We accompany Rothbard during the moment 
when he discovers he can no longer be a minimal-state libertarian, 
or minarchist, and we learn exactly what it was that led him into 
anarchism. He discusses his derivation (on the basis of the non- 
aggression principle) of peace and nonintervention as libertarian 
principles, his evolving political allegiances in the 1950s in light of 
his resolute noninterventionism, and his attraction to the forbid- 
den subject of Cold War revisionism. 

Still, we cannot overlook or underestimate the importance of 
this book as a work of history. Rothbard fills a crucial gap both in 
the history of American foreign policy as well as in the histories of 
American conservatism and libertarianism. In fact, we can go even 
further: The Betrayal of the American Right is an important missing 
chapter in the received story of America. Important if long-for- 
gotten thinkers, writers, and activists spring to life once again in 
these pages. Any number of topics for research papers and even 

Murray N. Rothbard, “A Strategy for the Right,” in The Impressible 
Rothbard, Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., ed. (Burlingame, Calif.: Center for 
Libertarian Studies, 2000), p. 4. 



full-length books might be gleaned from the issues Rothbard raises 

It is safe to say that very few Americans, conservatives 
included — indeed, especially conservatives — know that some of the 
most consistent and outspoken opponents of Harry Truman’s early 
Cold War measures were budget-conscious Republicans, ideolog- 
ically averse to international crusades. Senator Robert A. Taft, for 
instance, was the most prominent if perhaps the least consistent of 
the Republican noninterventionists who greeted Harry Truman’s 
early Cold War policies with skepticism. Taft was critical of the 
Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, and NATO, each of which 
he viewed as either unnecessarily provocative or ruinously expen- 
sive. Tah, along with lesser-known figures from the House and 
Senate like George Bender, Howard Buffett, and Kenneth 
Wherry, constituted the political arm of the Old Right. 

Contrary to the erroneous impression of left-liberalism as anti- 
war and peace-loving, voices of mainstream liberalism adopted the 
standard interventionist line against the “isolationist” heretic: Taft, 
wrote the prominent liberal columnist Richard Rovere, was an 
unsuitable presidential candidate in 1948 since the next president 
“should be an executive of the human race . . . who will boldly 
champion freedom before the world and for the world . . . [which] 
Taft simply could not do.” Likewise, The Nation called Taft and his 
allies in Congress “super-appeasers” whose policies “should set the 
bells ringing in the Kremlin.” 2 

Naturally, for his efforts Rothbard was himself red-baited from 
time to time by people on the Right. That his anti -Communist cre- 
dentials were as bulletproof as one could ask for hardly seemed to 
matter: he opposed the global anti-Communist crusade, and that 
was what counted. Ironically, it was precisely Rothbard’s contempt 
for Communism that persuaded him that an ongoing military cam- 
paign against it, one that would surely have terrible short- and 
long-term consequences for American society and government (not 

2 John Moser, “Principles Without Program: Senator Robert A. Taft 
and American Foreign Policy,” Ohio History 108 (1999): 177-92. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

to mention the mischief it could cause abroad), was actually unnec- 
essary: Ludwig von Mises had already shown the insuperable 
obstacles that confronted truly socialist economies; and the Soviet 
Union’s acquisition of a string of satellites each of which was an 
economic basket case in need of subsidy did not seem like an espe- 
cially menacing imperial strategy. 

Old Right members of Congress like Howard Buffett argued, 
to the cheers of Rothbard, that the cause of freedom in the world 
was to be advanced by the force of American example rather than 
by the force of arms, and that American interventionism would 
play into the hands of Soviet propaganda that portrayed the U.S. 
as a self-interested imperialist rather than a disinterested advocate 
for mankind. Here was the traditional libertarian position, drawn 
from the great statesmen of the nineteenth century, the era of clas- 
sical liberalism. Thus Richard Cobden, the great British classical 
liberal, had once said: 

England, by calmly directing her undivided energies to the 
purifying of her own internal institutions, to the emancipa- 
tion of her commerce . . . would, by thus serving as it were 
for the beacon of other nations, aid more effectually the cause 
of political progression all over the continent than she could 
possibly do by plunging herself into the strife of European 
wars. 3 

Likewise, Henry Clay, not himself a classical liberal, nevertheless 
summed up the practically unanimous opinion of mid-nineteenth- 
century America: 

By the policy to which we have adhered since the days of 
Washington . . . we have done more for the cause of liberty 
than arms could effect; we have shown to other nations the 
way to greatness and happiness. . . . Far better is it for our- 
selves, for Hungary, and the cause of liberty, that, adhering to 
our pacific system and avoiding the distant wars of Europe, 

3 Richard Cobden, “Commerce is the Great Panacea,” in The Political 
Writings of Richard Cobden , F.W. Chesson, ed. (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 
1903), vol. 1, p. 35. 



we should keep our lamp burning brightly on this western 
shore, as a light to all nations, than to hazard its utter extinc- 
tion amid the ruins of fallen and falling republics in Europe. 4 

This was the principle in which Rothbard continued to believe. 

What we laughingly call the “conservative movement” today 
has little incentive to remind people of the skeptics of interven- 
tionism to be found among conservative Republicans in the Tru- 
man years. In these pages Rothbard makes a compelling case that 
the Right’s embrace of global interventionism was not inevitable, 
but was instead the result of contingent factors: the deaths of key 
representatives of the Old Right at particularly inauspicious 
moments, the organizational skill of the opposition, and internal 
difficulties within Old Right institutions. 

But it isn’t just modern conservatism that is at fault for the dis- 
appearance of the Old Right down the Orwellian memory hole. 
Libertarians, too, must in some cases share the blame. In the late 
1970s, Rothbard was personally responsible for inserting the non- 
interventionist plank into the Libertarian Party platform — at a 
time when, to his amazement, foreign policy seemed to arouse rel- 
atively little interest among libertarians. The 2003 Iraq war was 
justified on the basis of propaganda worthy of the old Pravda ; that 
people calling themselves libertarians — who, after all, are supposed 
to have an eye for government propaganda — swallowed the gov- 
ernment’s case whole suggests that the problem has not altogether 
disappeared. (One can only imagine what Mencken, one of Roth- 
bard’s heroes, would have had to say about that war, its architects, 
and an American population that continued to believe the discred- 
ited weapons of mass destruction [WMD] claims long after every- 
one, on all sides, had agreed the charges were false.) 

4 Ralph Raico, “American Foreign Policy — The Turning Point, 
1898-1919,” in The Failure of America's Foreign Wars, Richard M. Ebeling 
and Jacob G. Hornberger, eds. (Fairfax, Va.: Future of Freedom 
Foundation, 1996), pp. 55-56. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Rothbard’s cooperation with the New Left in the 1960s has 
aroused much interest and some criticism. With the noninterven- 
tionist Right essentially routed and no institutional or publishing 
arm interested in noninterventionism and laissez-faire, Rothbard 
began to look elsewhere for allies in the fight against war, which he 
was coming to view as the most fundamental issue of all. (“I am 
getting more and more convinced that the war-peace question is 
the key to the whole libertarian business,” Rothbard had noted pri- 
vately in 1956. 5 ) Mainstream liberalism was, naturally, out of the 
question, since it had long since adopted the main contours of 
Cold War interventionism; it was liberals, as we have seen, who 
condemned the conservative Taft for his skepticism of foreign 
intervention. At this moment of intellectual isolation, Rothbard 
looked with interest and sympathy upon the emergence of the 
New Left and the libertarian instincts he found there — particularly 
its interest in decentralization and free speech — that he hoped 
could be nurtured. 

Rothbard came to appreciate the work of New Left historian 
William Appleman Williams, and befriended a number of his stu- 
dents (including Ronald Radosh, with whom Rothbard later edited 
A New History of Leviathan, an important collection of essays on the 
corporate state). In Williams himself Rothbard found not only 
congenial foreign-policy analysis, but also important hints of 
opposition to the central state in domestic affairs. “The core radi- 
cal ideals and values of community, equality, democracy, and 
humaneness,” Rothbard quoted Williams as saying, 

simply cannot in the future be realized and sustained — nor 
should they be sought — through more centralization and 
consolidation. These radical values can most nearly be real- 
ized through decentralization and through the creation of 
many truly human communities. If one feels the need to go 
ancestor-diving in the American past and spear a tradition 

5 John Payne, “Rothbard’s Time on the Left,” Journal of Libertarian 
Studies 19 (Winter, 2005): 9. 



that is relevant to our contemporary predicament, then the 
prize trophy is the Articles of Confederation. 6 7 

Although themselves isolated and perhaps discouraged, there 
are still some voices on the Left today that bring to mind what 
Rothbard sought to cultivate in the New Left. Kirkpatrick Sale’s 
words from 2006 may as well be a postscript to those of William 
Appleman Williams on the Articles of Confederation: 

I am convinced, believe it or not, that secession — by state 
where the state is cohesive (the model is Vermont, where the 
secessionist movement is the Second Vermont Republic), or 
by region where that makes more sense (Southern California 
or Cascadia are the models here) — is the most fruitful objec- 
tive for our political future. Peaceful, orderly, popular, dem- 
ocratic, and legal secession would enable a wide variety of 
governments, amenable to all shades of the anti-authoritarian 
spectrum, to be established within a modern political context. 

Such a wide variety, as I see it, that if you didn’t like the place 
you were, you could always find a place you liked.' 

For a time, Rothbard’s optimism about the alliance was recip- 
rocated. “In a strong sense, the Old Right and the New Left are 
morally and politically coordinate,” wrote Carl Oglesby of Stu- 
dents for a Democratic Society (SDS) in 1967. 8 What went 
wrong — the collapse of SDS and Rothbard’s break with the whole 
movement — is the subject of the final chapter of this book. 

Here we encounter still another endearing aspect of The 
Betrayal of the American Right-. Rothbard’s willingness to acknowl- 
edge mistakes, or cases when things took unfortunate turns that he 
did not anticipate — rarities in the memoir genre. “Looking back 

6 Ibid., p. 14. 

7 Kirkpatrick Sale, roundtable contribution, The American Conservative 
(August 28, 2006): 28. 

8 Carl Oglesby and Richard Shaull, Containment and Change (New 
York: Macmillan, 1967), pp. 166-67. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

over the experiment of alliance with the New Left,” Rothbard 

it also became clear that the result had in many cases been 
disastrous for libertarians; for, isolated and scattered as these 
young libertarians were, the Clarks and the Milchmans and 
some of the Glaser- Kansas group were soon to become leftists 
in fact, and in particular to abandon the very devotion to 
individualism, private property rights, and the free-market 
economy that had brought them to libertarianism, and then 
to the New Left alliance, in the first place. 9 

He concluded that 

a cadre with no organization and with no continuing program 
of “internal education” and reinforcement is bound to defect 
and melt away in the course of working with far stronger 
allies. 10 

That cadre has long since been built, of course, thanks in large part 
to Rothbard’s own labors. 

In the Introduction, Rothbard speaks of a final chapter of the 
manuscript that brought the narrative up through the end of the 
Cold War and the intellectual and strategic realignments that that 
happy occasion made possible. That chapter, unfortunately, has 
not been found, and thus the story Rothbard tells here must to 
some degree remain incomplete. With the reappearance of a non- 
interventionist Right following the end of the Cold War, Roth- 
bard’s rhetoric at the time reflected an unmistakable sense of 
returning home. With old battle lines withering away, more 
opportunities than ever had begun to open up for cross-ideologi- 
cal cooperation among opponents of war. Questions that had not 
been asked in some intellectual quarters in decades — about the 
proper U.S. role in the world and the moral and material dangers 

9 See pages 223-24 in this volume. 

10 Ibid., p. 224. 



of foreign intervention — were once again being heard, and some of 
the most withering attacks on U.S. foreign policy were coming 
from old-fashioned conservatives. “The Old Right is suddenly 
back!” a delighted Rothbard declared in 1992. 

The fruits of this collaboration ultimately proved disappoint- 
ing, though Rothbard forged some valuable and cherished friend- 
ships with a good many people who continue to admire and learn 
from him to this day. Today, formal alliances of this sort, while still 
strategically useful, seem much less important than they were even 
15 years ago. When there is only a handful of publications and 
platforms sympathetic to libertarian ideas, there is a natural desire 
to want to forge an express alliance between libertarians and those 
outlets. But in the age of the Internet, when the number of outlets 
in which one can publish (and reach a great many people) is so 
high, and in which each person can have his own website and blog, 
libertarians can have very loud voices without erecting any formal 
alliance with some other group. 

In a way, it may be fortuitous that The Betrayal of the American 
Right is appearing only now rather than 20 years ago. The folly of 
the Iraq war and the propaganda campaign that launched it are 
making even people heretofore settled in their views stop and 
think. Listening to Bush administration propaganda, they can’t 
help but wonder if that is what they themselves sounded like dur- 
ing the Cold War. And even if they do not share Rothbard’s analy- 
sis of the Cold War, plenty of people today, anticipating with dread 
the endless U.S. wars that the future appears to portend, may be 
willing to consider at least one important argument against Cold 
War interventionism: it nurtured a military-industrial complex, 
born in World War II, that is evidently incapable of ever being dis- 
mantled. Milton Friedman’s dictum that there is nothing so per- 
manent as a “temporary” government program has found no more 
striking vindication than in the American “defense” sector, which 
always seems to find a rationale for higher spending and more 

In short, more people than ever are skeptical of the official gov- 
ernment version of just about anything, and are open to revisiting 

The Betrayal of the American Right 

old questions. As usual, Rothbard is prepared to ask those ques- 
tions, and to follow the answers wherever they lead hi m. 

Thomas E. Woods, Jr. 
Auburn, Alabama 
May 2007 

Preface to the 1991 Revision 

T he manuscript of the greater part of this book, The Betrayal 
of the American Right , was written in 1971 and revised in 
1973. Little of this original manuscript has been changed 
here. In a profound sense, it is more timely today than when it was 
first written. The book was a cry in the wilderness against what I 
saw as the betrayal of what I here call the “Old Right.” Or, to allay 
confusion about various “olds” and “news,” we call it the Original 
Right. The Old Right arose during the 1930s as a reaction against 
the Great Leap Forward (or Backward) into collectivism that char- 
acterized the New Deal. That Old Right continued and flourished 
through the 1940s and down to about the mid-1950s. The Old 
Right was staunchly opposed to Big Government and the New 
Deal at home and abroad: that is, to both facets of the welfare-war- 
fare state. It combated U.S. intervention in foreign affairs and for- 
eign wars as fervently as it opposed intervention at home. 

At the present time, many conservatives have come to realize 
that the old feisty, antigovernment spirit of conservatives has been 
abraded and somehow been transformed into its statist opposite. It 
is tempting, and, so far as it goes, certainly correct, to put the 
blame on the Right’s embrace in the 1970s of Truman-Humphrey 
Cold War liberals calling themselves “neoconservatives,” and to 
allow these ex-Trotskyites and ex-Mensheviks not only into the 
tent but also to take over the show. But the thesis of the book is 
that those who wonder what happened to the good old cause must 
not stop with the neocons: that the rot started long before, with 
the founding in 1955 of National Review and its rapid rise to dom- 
inance of the conservative movement. It was National Review that, 
consciously and cleverly, transformed the content of the Old Right 
into something very like its opposite, while preserving the old 
forms and rituals, such as lip service to the free market and to the 


xxii The Betrayal of the American Right 

Constitution of the United States. It was, as the great Caret Gar- 
rett said about the New Deal in the American polity, a “revolution 
within the form.” As this book points out, the Right happened to 
be vulnerable to takeover at this time, its old leaders recently dead 
or retired. While younger, or yuppie, conservatives may puzzle at 
this statement, the good old days of the Old Right in politics were 
not the Goldwater campaign but the campaign of Robert A. Taft. 

This book discusses the Old Right, details the National Review 
takeover, and treats the odyssey of myself and like-minded liber- 
tarians out of our formerly honored position as the “extreme” wing 
of the Old Right, breaking with National Review conservatism, and 
anxious to find a home for libertarian ideas and activities. The 
book was written after the end of our alliance with the New Left, 
which had begun promisingly in the early and mid-1960s but had 
ended in the mad if short-lived orgy of violence and destruction at 
the end of the decade. The manuscript ends with the beginning of 
the emergence of the libertarian movement as a separate, self-con- 
scious ideological and even political entity in the United States, 
aiming to be a separate or Third Force in America drawing from 
the congenial elements of both Left and Right. 

The final section, chapter 14, written at the present time, fills in 
the history of the libertarian movement and of the right in the last 
two decades, and explains how brand new circumstances, notably the 
astounding death of the Cold War, combined with the collapse of 
the conservative movement and changes among libertarians, present 
new challenges and fruitful alliances for libertarians. 1 

The inspiration for this manuscript came from Bob Kephart, 
then publisher of the Libertarian Review, who planned to publish 
books under the imprint of the Libertarian Review Press. This 
press did publish a collection of my essays around that time. 2 
Ramparts Press put a blurb for the publication of this book into its 
1971 catalog, but they wanted extensive changes which I refused to 

1 Such a chapter has not been found in Rothbard’s papers. — Ed. 

2 Murray N. Rothbard, Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature and 
Other Essays (Washington, D.C.: Libertarian Review Press, 1974). 



make. 3 1 had tried, ever since the early 1960s, to get my story of the 
betrayal of the Old Right into print, but there were no periodicals 
open to this message. Particularly incensed at the Goldwater cam- 
paign of 1964, the first campaign dominated by the National Review 
Right, I could only air my views, very briefly, in the only extant lib- 
ertarian periodical, the Los Angeles newsletter The Innovator, 
searching for an outlet for a longer piece, I could find only the 
obscure peace-Catholic quarterly Continuum , 4 

After that, my political views were largely aired in my own peri- 
odicals: Left and Right, 1965-1968, edited by Leonard Liggio and 
myself, a vehicle for alliance with the New Left; the weekly and 
then monthly Libertarian Forum, 1969-1984, an expression of a 
self-conscious libertarian movement; and, for more scholarly arti- 
cles, the Journal of Libertarian Studies, founded in 1977 as a pub- 
lishing arm of the Center for Libertarian Studies and still contin- 
uing. Part of the analysis in the present manuscript appeared as my 
“The Foreign Policy of the Old Right.” 5 

At about the same time the Betrayal was written, there also 
appeared a master’s essay along similar lines by the young libertar- 
ian historian Joseph R. Stromberg. 6 Of the scholarly work done 
since, one of the most valuable on the Old Right is the study of 

3 I had published my view of the Old Right and its fall in Ramparts, 
then the leading New Left periodical. Murray N. Rothbard, 
“Confessions of a Right-Wing Liberal,” Ramparts 6, no. 11 (June 15, 
1968): 48-52. 

4 Murray N. Rothbard, “The Transformation of the American Right,” 
Continuum 2 (Summer, 1964): 22-31. 

5 Journal of Libertarian Studies 2 (Winter, 1978): 85-96. The original 
version of this article was a paper delivered at a session on the Right at 
the 1972 annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians, a 
session organized by the brilliant Marxist historian Eugene D. Genovese. 

6 Joseph R. Stromberg, “The Cold War and the Transformation of the 
American Right: The Decline of Right-Wing Liberalism” (M.A. essay, 
Florida Atlantic University, 1971). 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Frank Chodorov by Charles Flamilton. 7 Also particularly valuable 
is Justus Doenecke’s study of the response of World War II isola- 
tionists to the emergence of the Cold War, down to 1954, and 
Felix Morley’s autobiography, particularly the last two chapters on 
his experience with Human Events , 8 > 9 

Since the 1970s, The Betrayal of the American Right has remained 
dormant, although copies, some barely legible, have been circulat- 
ing in samizdat among young libertarian scholars. 

Finally, the dramatic collapse of Communism and the Cold 
War in 1989, and the subsequent rethinking among both conser- 
vatives and libertarians, has recently aroused interest in the 
Betrayal. Study into the Old Right by Tom Fleming, editor of 
Chronicles, led me to dig out the manuscript, and the enthusiastic 
suggestion of Justin Raimondo, editor of the Libertarian Republi- 
can, inspired me to update the Betrayal and led directly to the pres- 
ent publication. As always, I am deeply grateful to Burt Blumert 
and to Lew Rockwell for their enthusiasm and help over the years, 
and with this publication. 

Murray N. Rothbard 
Las Vegas, 1991 

7 Charles H. Hamilton, “Introduction,” in Fugitive Writings: Selected 
Writings of Frank Chodorov, Hamilton, ed. (Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty 
Press, 1980), pp. 11-30. 

8 Justus D. Doenecke, Not to the Swift: The Old Isolationists in the Cold 
War Era (Lewisburg, Penn.: Bucknell University Press, 1979). Also see 
Ronald Radosh, Prophets on the Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of 
American Globalism (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1975). 

9 An especially valuable study done before the writing of the Betrayal is 
a doctoral dissertation on the 1950s libertarian movement by Eckard 
Vance Toy, Jr., even though it is almost exclusively based on the fortu- 
nately extensive papers and correspondence of Seattle industrialist James 
W. Clise. Toy is particularly good on the Foundation for Economic 
Education (FEE) and Spiritual Mobilization, although he neglects the 
William Volker Fund and does not concern himself with foreign policy. 
Eckard Vance Toy, Jr., “Ideology and Conflict in American Ultra- 
Conservatism, 1945-1960” (Ph.D. diss., University of Oregon, 1965). 


Two Rights, Old and New 

I n the spring of 1970, a new political term — “the hard hats” — 
burst upon the American consciousness. As the hard-hatted 
construction workers barreled their way around the Wall 
Street area, beating up college kids and peace demonstrators, earn- 
ing the admiration of the right wing and a citation from President 
Nixon, one of the banners they raised summed up in a single 
phrase how remarkably the right wing has changed over the past 
two decades. For the banner said simply: “God Bless the Estab- 
lishment.” In that single phrase, so typical of the current right 
wing, the hard-hats were expressing the age-old political philoso- 
phy of Conservatism, that philosophy which formed the central 
core of the originally labeled “Conservatism” of early nineteenth- 
century Europe. In fact, it is the philosophy that has marked gen- 
uinely conservative thought, regardless of label, since the ancient 
days of Oriental despotism: an all-encompassing reverence for 
“Throne-and-Altar,” for whatever divinely sanctioned State appa- 
ratus happened to be in existence. In one form or another, “God 
Bless the Establishment” has always been the cry on behalf of State 

But how many Americans realize that, not so long ago, the 
American right wing was almost the exact opposite of what we 
know today? In fact, how many know that the term “Establish- 
ment” itself, now used almost solely as a term of opprobrium by 
the Left, was first applied to America not by C. Wright Mills or 
other Left sociologists, but by National Review theoretician Frank 
S. Meyer, in the early days of that central organ of the American 
Right? In the mid-1950s, Meyer took a term which had previously 



The Betrayal of the American Right 

been used only — and rather affectionately — to describe the ruling 
institutions of Great Britain, and applied the term with proper 
acidity to the American scene. Broader and more subtle than “rul- 
ing class,” more permanent and institutionalized than a “power 
elite,” “the Establishment” quickly became a household word. But 
the ironic and crucial point is that Meyer’s and National Review's 
use of the term in those days was bitterly critical: the spirit of the 
right wing, then and particularly earlier, was far more “God 
Damn” than “God Bless” the establishment. 1 The difference 
between the two right wings, “Old” and “New,” and how one was 
transformed into the other, is the central theme of this book. 

The Old Right, which constituted the American right wing 
from approximately the mid- 193 Os to the mid-1950s, was, if noth- 
ing else, an Opposition movement. Hostility to the Establishment 
was its hallmark, its very lifeblood. In fact, when in the 1950s the 
monthly newsletter RIGHT attempted to convey to its readers 
news of the right wing, it was of course forced to define the move- 
ment it would be writing about — and it found that it could define 
the right wing only in negative terms: in its total opposition to 
what it conceived to be the ruling trends of American life. In brief, 
the Old Right was born and had its being as the opposition move- 
ment to the New Deal, and to everything, foreign and domestic, 
that the New Deal encompassed: at first, to burgeoning New Deal 
statism at home, and then, later in the ’30s, to the drive for Amer- 
ican global intervention abroad. Since the essence of the Old Right 
was a reaction against runaway Big Government at home and over- 
seas, this meant that the Old Right was necessarily, even if not 
always consciously, libertarian rather than statist, “radical” rather 
than traditional conservative apologists for the existing order. 

'By the 1964 campaign, the irreverent Rightist Noel E. Parmentel, Jr., 
was writing, in his “Folk Songs for Conservatives”: 

Won't you come home, Bill Buckley, 

Won't you come home 
From the Establishment? 


Origins of the Old Right I: 
Early Individualism 

I ndividualism, and its economic corollary, laissez-faire liberal- 
ism, has not always taken on a conservative hue, has not always 
functioned, as it often does today, as an apologist for the sta- 
tus quo. On the contrary, the Revolution of modern times was 
originally, and continued for a long time to be, laissez-faire indi- 
vidualist. Its purpose was to free the individual person from the 
restrictions and the shackles, the encrusted caste privileges and 
exploitative wars, of the feudal and mercantilist orders, of the Tory 
ancien regime. Tom Paine, Thomas Jefferson, the militants in the 
American Revolution, the Jacksonian movement, Emerson and 
Thoreau, William Lloyd Garrison and the radical abolitionists — 
all were basically laissez-faire individualists who carried on the age- 
old battle for liberty and against all forms of State privilege. And 
so were the French revolutionaries — not only the Girondins, but 
even the much-abused Jacobins, who were obliged to defend the 
Revolution against the massed crowned heads of Europe. All were 
roughly in the same camp. The individualist heritage, indeed, goes 
back to the first modern radicals of the seventeenth century — to 
the Levellers in England, and to Roger Williams and Anne 
Hutchinson in the American colonies. 

The conventional historical wisdom asserts that while the radi- 
cal movements in America were indeed laissez-faire individualist 
before the Civil War, that afterwards, the laissez-fairists became 
conservatives, and the radical mantle then fell to groups more 
familiar to the modern Left: the Socialists and Populists. But this 



The Betrayal of the American Right 

is a distortion of the truth. For it was elderly New England Brah- 
mins, laissez-faire merchants and industrialists like Edward Atkin- 
son, who had financed John Brown’s raid at Elarper’s Ferry, who 
were the ones to leap in and oppose the U.S. imperialism of the 
Spanish-American War with all their might. No opposition to that 
war was more thoroughgoing than that of the laissez-faire econo- 
mist and sociologist William Graham Sumner or than that of 
Atkinson who, as head of the Anti-Imperialist League, mailed anti- 
war pamphlets to American troops then engaged in conquering the 
Philippines. Atkinson’s pamphlets urged our troops to mutiny, and 
were consequently seized by the U.S. postal authorities. 

In taking this stand, Atkinson, Sumner and their colleagues 
were not being “sports”; they were following an antiwar, anti- 
imperialist tradition as old as classical liberalism itself. This was 
the tradition of Price, Priestley, and the late eighteenth-century 
British radicals that earned them repeated imprisonment by the 
British war machine; and of Richard Cobden, John Bright, and the 
laissez-faire Manchester School of the mid-nineteenth century. 
Cobden, in particular, had fearlessly denounced every war and 
every imperial maneuver of the British regime. We are now so used 
to thinking of opposition to imperialism as Marxian that this kind 
of movement seems almost inconceivable to us today. 1 

By the advent of World War I, however, the death of the older 
laissez-faire generation threw the leadership of the opposition to 
America’s imperial wars into the hands of the Socialist Party. But 
other, more individualist-minded men joined in the opposition, 
many of whom would later form the core of the isolationist Old 
Right of the late 1930s. Thus, the hardcore antiwar leaders 
included the individualist Senator Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin 
and such laissez-faire liberals as Senators William E. Borah 
(Republican) of Idaho and James A. Reed (Democrat) of Missouri. 
It also included Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr., father of the Lone 
Eagle, who was a congressman from Minnesota. 

'Thus, see William H. Dawson, Richard Cobden and Foreign Policy 
(London: George Allen and Unwin, 1926). 

Origins of the Old Right I: Early Individualism 


Almost all of America’s intellectuals rushed to enlist in the war 
fervor of World War I. A leading exception was the formidable 
laissez-faire individualist Oswald Garrison Villard, editor of the 
Nation, grandson of William Lloyd Garrison and former member 
of the Anti-Imperialist League. Two other prominent exceptions 
were friends and associates of Villard who were later to serve as 
leaders of libertarian thought in America: Francis Neilson and 
especially Albert Jay Nock. Neilson was the last of the laissez-faire 
English Liberals, who had emigrated to the U.S.; Nock served 
under Villard during the war, and it was his Nation editorial 
denouncing the pro-government activities of Samuel Gompers 
that got that issue of the magazine banned by the U.S. Post Office. 
And it was Neilson who wrote the first revisionist book on the ori- 
gins of World War I, How Diplomats Make War (1915). The first 
revisionist book by an American, in fact, was Nock’s Myth of a 
Guilty Nation (1922), which had been serialized in LaFollette's Mag- 

The world war constituted a tremendous trauma for all the 
individuals and groups opposed to the conflict. The total mobi- 
lization, the savage repression of opponents, the carnage and the 
U.S. global intervention on an unprecedented scale — all of these 
polarized a large number of diverse people. The shock and the 
sheer overriding fact of the war inevitably drew together the 
diverse antiwar groups into a loose, informal and oppositional 
united front — a front in a new kind of fundamental opposition to 
the American system and to much of American society. The rapid 
transformation of the brilliant young intellectual Randolph 
Bourne from an optimistic pragmatist into a radically pessimistic 
anarchist was typical, though in a more intense form, of this newly 
created opposition. Crying, “War is the health of the State,” 
Bourne declared: 

Country is a concept of peace, of balance, of living and let- 
ting live. But State is essentially a concept of power. . . . And 
we have the misfortune of being born not only into a country 
but into a State. . . . 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

The State is the country acting as a political unit, it is the 
group acting as a repository of force. . . . International poli- 
tics is a “power politics” because it is a relation of States and 
that is what States infallibly and calamitously are, huge aggre- 
gations of human and industrial force that may be hurled 
against each other in war. When a country acts as a whole in 
relation to another country, or in imposing laws on its own 
inhabitants, or in coercing or punishing individuals or 
minorities, it is acting as a State. The history of America as a 
country is quite different from that of America as a State. In 
one case it is the drama of the pioneering conquest of the 
land, of the growth of wealth and the ways in which it was 
used . . . and the carrying out of spiritual ideals. . . . But as a 
State, its history is that of playing part in the world, making 
war, obstructing international trade . . . punishing those citi- 
zens whom society agrees are offensive, and collecting money 
to pay for it all. 2 

If the opposition was polarized and forced together by the war, this 
polarization did not cease with the war’s end. For one thing, the 
war and its corollary repression and militarism were shocks that 
started the opposition thinking deeply and critically about the 
American system per se; for another, the international system 
established by the war was frozen into the status quo of the post- 
war era. For it was obvious that the Versailles Treaty meant that 
British and French imperialism had carved up and humiliated Ger- 
many, and then intended to use the League of Nations as a perma- 
nent world guarantor of the newly imposed status quo. Versailles 
and the League meant that America could not forget the war; and 
the ranks of the Opposition were now joined by a host of disillu- 
sioned Wilsonians who saw the reality of the world that President 
Wilson had made. 

The wartime and postwar opposition joined together in a 
coalition including Socialists and all manner of progressives and 
individualists. Since they and the coalition were now clearly anti- 
militarist and anti-“patriotic,” since they were increasingly radical 

2 Randolph Bourne, Untimely Papers (N ew York: B.W. Huebach, 
1919), pp. 229-30. 

Origins of the Old Right I: Early Individualism 


in their antistatism, the individualists were universally labeled as 
“leftists”; in fact, as the Socialist Party split and faded badly in the 
postwar era, the Opposition was given an increasingly individual- 
istic cast during the 1920s. Part of this opposition was also cultural: 
a revolt against hidebound Victorian mores and literature. Part of 
this cultural revolt was embodied in the well-known expatriates of 
the “Lost Generation” of young American writers, writers express- 
ing their intense disillusion with the wartime “idealism” and the 
reality that militarism and the war had revealed about America. 
Another phase of this revolt was embodied in the new social free- 
dom of the jazz and flapper eras, and the flowering of individual 
expression, among increasing numbers of young men and women. 


Origins of the Old Right II: 
The Tory Anarchism of 
Mencken and Nock 

L eading the cultural struggle in America was H.L. Mencken, 
undoubtedly the single most influential intellectual of the 
1920s; a notable individualist and libertarian, Mencken 
sailed into battle with characteristic verve and wit, denouncing the 
stodgy culture and the “Babbittry” of businessmen, and calling for 
unrestricted freedom of the individual. For Mencken, too, it was 
the trauma of World War I, and its domestic and foreign evils, that 
mobilized and intensified his concern for politics — a concern 
aggravated by the despotism of Prohibition, surely the greatest sin- 
gle act of tyranny ever imposed in America. 

Nowadays, when Prohibition is considered a “right-wing” 
movement, it is forgotten that every reform movement of the nine- 
teenth century — every moralistic group trying to bring the “uplift” 
to America by force of law — included Prohibition as one of its 
cherished programs. To Mencken, the battle against Prohibition 
was merely a fight against the most conspicuous of the tyrannical 
and statist “reforms” being proposed against the American public. 

And so, Mencken’s highly influential monthly The American 
Mercury, founded in 1924, opened its pages to writers of all parts 
of the Opposition — especially to attacks on American culture and 
mores, to assaults on censorship and the championing of civil lib- 
erties, and to revisionism on the war. Thus, the Mercury featured 
two prominent revisionists of World War I: Harry Elmer Barnes 



The Betrayal of the American Right 

and Barnes’s student, C. Hartley Grattan, whose delightful series 
in the magazine, “When Historians Cut Loose,” acidly demolished 
the war propaganda of America’s leading historians. Mencken’s 
cultural scorn for the American “booboisie” was embodied in his 
famous “Americana” column, which simply reprinted news items 
on the idiocies of American life without editorial comment. 

The enormous scope of Mencken’s interests, coupled with his 
scintillating wit and style (Mencken was labeled by Joseph Wood 
Krutch as “the greatest prose stylist of the twentieth century”), 
served to obscure for his generation of youthful followers and 
admirers the remarkable consistency of his thought. When, 
decades after his former prominence, Mencken collected the best 
of his old writings in A Mencken Chrestomathy (1948), the book was 
reviewed in the New Leader by the eminent literary critic Samuel 
Putnam. Putnam reacted in considerable surprise; remembering 
Mencken from his youth as merely a glib cynic, Putnam found to 
his admiring astonishment that H.L.M. had always been a “Tory 
anarchist” — an apt summation for the intellectual leader of the 

But H.L. Mencken was not the only editor leading the new 
upsurge of individualistic opposition during the 1920s. From a 
similar though more moderate stance, the Nation of Mencken’s 
friend Oswald Garrison Villard continued to serve as an outstand- 
ing voice for peace, revisionism on World War I, and opposition to 
the imperialist status quo imposed at Versailles. Villard, at the end 
of the war, acknowledged that the war had pushed him far to the 
left, not in the sense of adopting socialism, but in being thoroughly 
“against the present political order.” Denounced by conservatives 
as pacifist, pro-German, and “Bolshevist,” Villard found himself 
forced into a political and journalistic alliance with socialists and 
progressives who shared his hostility to the existing American and 
world order. 1 

1 Villard to Hutchins Hapgood, May 19, 1919. Michael Wreszin, 
Oswald Garrison Villard (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1965), 
pp. 75 and 125-30. 

Origins of the Old Right II: The Tory Anarchism of Mencken and Nock 1 1 

From a still more radical and individualist perspective, 
Mencken’s friend and fellow “Tory anarchist” Albert Jay Nock co- 
founded and coedited, along with Francis Neilson, the new weekly 
Freeman from 1920 to 1924. The Freeman , too, opened its pages to 
all left-oppositionists to the political order. With the laissez-faire 
individualist Nock as principal editor, the Freeman was a center of 
radical thought and expression among oppositionist intellectuals. 
Rebuffing the Nation’s welcome to the new Freeman as a fellow lib- 
eral weekly, Nock declared that he was not a liberal but a radical. 
“We can not help remembering,” wrote Nock bitterly, “that this 
was a liberal’s war, a liberal’s peace, and that the present state of 
things is the consummation of a fairly long, fairly extensive, and 
extremely costly experiment with liberalism in political power.” 2 
To Nock, radicalism meant that the State was to be considered as 
an antisocial institution rather than as the typically liberal instru- 
ment of social reform. And Nock, like Mencken, gladly opened the 
pages of his journal to all manner of radical, anti-Establishment 
opinion, including Van Wyck Brooks, Bertrand Russell, Louis 
Untermeyer, Lewis Mumford, John Dos Passos, William C. Bul- 
litt, and Charles A. Beard. 

In particular, while an individualist and libertarian, Nock wel- 
comed the Soviet revolution as a successful overthrow of a frozen 
and reactionary State apparatus. Above all, Nock, in opposing the 
postwar settlement, denounced the American and Allied interven- 
tion in the [Russian] Civil War. Nock and Neilson saw clearly that 
the American intervention was setting the stage for a continuing 
and permanent imposition of American might throughout the 
world. After the folding of the Freeman in 1924, Nock continued 
to be prominent as a distinguished essayist in the leading maga- 
zines, including his famous “Anarchist’s Progress.” 3 

2 Albert Jay Nock, “Our Duty Towards Europe,” The Freeman 7 
(August 8, 1923): 508; quoted in Robert M. Crunden, The Mind and An 
of Albert Jay Nock (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1964), p. 77. 

3 Albert Jay Nock, On Doing the Right Thing, and Other Essays (New 
York: Harper and Row, 1928). 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Most of this loose coalition of individualistic radicals was totally 
disillusioned with the political process, but to the extent that they 
distinguished between existing parties, the Republican Party was 
clearly the major enemy. Eternal Hamiltonian champions of Big 
Government and intimate government “partnership” with Big 
Business through tariffs, subsidies, and contracts, long-time bran- 
dishers of the Imperial big stick, the Republicans had capped their 
antilibertarian sins by being the party most dedicated to the 
tyranny of Prohibition, an evil that particularly enraged H.L. 
Mencken. Much of the opposition (e.g., Mencken, Villard) sup- 
ported the short-lived LaFollette Progressive movement of 1924, 
and the Progressive Senator William E. Borah (R-Idaho) was an 
opposition hero in leading the fight against the war and the League 
of Nations, and in advocating recognition of Soviet Russia. But the 
nearest political home was the conservative Bourbon, non- Wilson- 
ian or “Cleveland” wing of the Democratic Party, a wing that at 
least tended to be “wet,” was opposed to war and foreign interven- 
tion, and favored free trade and strictly minimal government. 
Mencken, the most politically minded of the group, felt closest in 
politics to Governor Albert Ritchie, the states-rights Democrat 
from Maryland, and to Senator James Reed, Democrat of Mis- 
souri, a man staunchly “isolationist” and anti-intervention in for- 
eign affairs and pro -laissez-faire at home. 

It was this conservative wing of the Democratic Party, headed 
by Charles Michelson, Jouett Shouse, and John J. Raskob, which 
launched a determined attack on Herbert Hoover in the late 1920s 
for his adherence to Prohibition and to Big Government generally. 
It was this wing that would later give rise to the much-maligned 
Liberty League. 

To Mencken and to Nock, in fact, Herbert Hoover — the pro- 
war Wilsonian and interventionist, the Food Czar of the war, the 
champion of Big Government, of high tariffs and business cartels, 
the pious moralist and apologist for Prohibition — embodied every- 
thing they abhorred in American political life. They were clearly 
leaders of the individualist opposition to Hoover’s conservative sta- 

Origins of the Old Right II: The Tory Anarchism of Mencken and Nock 1 3 

Since they were, in their very different styles, the leaders of lib- 
ertarian thought in America during the 1920s, Mencken and Nock 
deserve a little closer scrutiny. 

The essence of Mencken’s remarkably consistent “Tory anar- 
chism” was embodied in the discussion of government that he was 
later to select for his Chrestomathy : 

All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the 
superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and 
cripple him. If it be aristocratic in organization, then it seeks 
to protect the man who is superior only in law against the 
man who is superior in fact; if it be democratic, then it seeks 
to protect the man who is inferior in every way against both. 

One of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to 
make them as much alike as possible ... to search out and 
combat originality among them. All it can see in an original 
idea is potential change, and hence an invasion of its prerog- 
atives. The most dangerous man, to any government, is the 
man who is able to think things out for himself, without 
regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost 
inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he 
lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he 
is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not roman- 
tic personally [as Mencken clearly was not] he is very apt to 
spread discontent among those who are. . . . 

The ideal government of all reflective men, from Aristo- 
tle onward, is one which lets the individual alone — one which 
barely escapes being no government at all. This ideal, I 
believe, will be realized in the world twenty or thirty cen- 
turies after I have . . . taken up my public duties in Hell. 4 

Again, Mencken on the State as inherent exploitation: 

The average man, whatever his errors otherwise, at least sees 
clearly that government is something lying outside him and 
outside the generality of his fellow men — that it is a separate, 

4 From the Smart Set, December 1919. H.L. Mencken, A Mencken 
Chrestojnathy (New York: Knopf, 1949), pp. 145-46. See also Murray N. 
Rothbard, “H.L. Mencken: The Joyous Libertarian,” New Individualist 
Review 2, no. 2 (Summer, 1962): 15-27. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

independent and often hostile power, only partly under his 
control and capable of doing him great harm. ... Is it a fact 
of no significance that robbing the government is everywhere 
regarded as a crime of less magnitude than robbing an indi- 
vidual, or even a corporation? . . . 

What lies behind all this, I believe, is a deep sense of the 
fundamental antagonism between the government and the 
people it governs. It is apprehended, not as a committee of 
citizens chosen to carry on the communal business of the 
whole population, but as a separate and autonomous corpo- 
ration, mainly devoted to exploiting the population for the 
benefit of its own members. Robbing it is thus an act almost 
devoid of infamy. . . . When a private citizen is robbed a wor- 
thy man is deprived of the fruits of his industry and thrift; 
when the government is robbed the worst that happens is that 
certain rogues and loafers have less money to play with than 
they had before. The notion that they have earned that 
money is never entertained; to most sensible men it would 
seem ludicrous. They are simply rascals who, by accidents of 
law, have a somewhat dubious right to a share in the earnings 
of their fellow men. When that share is diminished by private 
enterprise the business is, on the whole, far more laudable 
than not. 

The intelligent man, when he pays taxes, certainly does 
not believe that he is making a prudent and productive 
investment of his money; on the contrary, he feels that he is 
being mulcted in an excessive amount for services that, in the 
main, are downright inimical to him. . . . He sees in even the 
most essential of them an agency for making it easier for the 
exploiters constituting the government to rob him. In these 
exploiters themselves he has no confidence whatever. He sees 
them as purely predatory and useless. . . . They constitute a 
power that stands over him constantly, ever alert for new 
chances to squeeze him. If they could do so safely, they would 
strip him to his hide. If they leave him anything at all, it is 
simply prudentially, as a farmer leaves a hen some of her eggs. 

This gang is well-nigh immune to punishment. . . . Since 
the first days of the Republic, less than a dozen of its mem- 
bers have been impeached, and only a few obscure under- 
strappers have been put into prison. The number of men sit- 
ting at Atlanta and Leavenworth for revolting against the 

Origins of the Old Right II: The Tory Anarchism of Mencken and Nock 1 5 

extortions of government is always ten times as great as the 
number of government officials condemned for oppressing 
the taxpayers to their own gain. Government, today, has 
grown too strong to be safe. There are no longer any citizens 
in the world; there are only subjects. They work day in and 
day out for their masters; they are bound to die for their mas- 
ters at call. . . . On some bright tomorrow, a geological epoch 
or two hence, they will come to the end of their endurance. 1 

In letters to his friends, Mencken reiterated his emphasis on indi- 
vidual liberty. At one time he wrote that he believed in absolute 
human liberty “up to the limit of the unbearable, and even 
beyond.” To his old friend Hamilton Owens he declared, 

I believe in only one thing and that thing is human liberty. If 
ever a man is to achieve anything like dignity, it can happen 
only if superior men are given absolute freedom to think 
what they want to think and say what they want to say . . . 

[and] the superior man can be sure of freedom only if it is 
given to all men. 5 6 7 

And in a privately written “Addendum on Aims,” Mencken 
declared that 

I am an extreme libertarian, and believe in absolute free 
speech. ... I am against jailing men for their opinions, or, for 
that matter, for anything else.' 

Part of Mencken’s antipathy to reform stemmed from his oft- 
reiterated belief that “all government is evil, and that trying to 
improve it is largely a waste of time.” Mencken stressed this theme 
in the noble and moving peroration to his Credo, written for a 
“What I Believe” series in a leading magazine: 

5 From the American Mercury , February 1925. Mencken, Chrestomathy, 
pp. 146-48. 

6 Guy Forgue, ed., Letters ofH.L. Mencken (New York: Knopf, 1961), 
pp. xiii, 189. 

7 Ibid. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

I believe that all government is evil, in that all government 
must necessarily make war upon liberty, and that the demo- 
cratic form is as bad as any of the other forms. . . . 

I believe in complete freedom of thought and speech — 
alike for the humblest man and the mightiest, and in the 
utmost freedom of conduct that is consistent with living in 
organized society. 

I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and 
to find out what it is made of, and how it is run. 

I believe in the reality of progress. I — 

But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I 
believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe 

that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that 


it is better to know than to be ignorant. 

Insofar as he was interested in economic matters, Mencken, as a 
corollary to his libertarian views, was a staunch believer in capital- 
ism. He praised Sir Ernest Benn’s paean to a free-market economy, 
and declared that to capitalism “we owe . . . almost everything that 
passes under the general name of civilization today.” He agreed 
with Benn that “nothing government does is ever done as cheaply 
and efficiently as the same thing might be done by private enter- 

But, in keeping with his individualism and libertarianism, 
Mencken’s devotion to capitalism was to the free market, and not 
to the monopoly statisnr that he saw ruling America in the 1920s. 
Hence he was as willing as any socialist to point the finger at the 
responsibility of Big Business for the growth of statisnr. Thus, in 
analyzing the 1924 presidential election, Mencken wrote: 

8 H.L. Mencken, “What I Believe,” The Forum 84 (September 1930): 

’ll.I, Mencken, “Babbitt as Philosopher” (review of Henry Ford, 
Today and Tomorrow, and Ernest J.P. Benn, The Confessions of a Capitalist), 
The America?! Mercury 9 (September 1926): 126-27. Also see Mencken, 
“Capitalism,” Baltimore Evening Sun, January 14, 1935, reprinted in 
Chresto?nathy, p. 294. 

Origins of the Old Right II: The Tory Anarchism of Mencken and Nock 1 7 

Big Business, it appears, is in favor of him [Coolidge]. . . . The 
fact should be sufficient to make the judicious regard him 
somewhat suspiciously. For Big Business, in America ... is 
frankly on the make, day in and day out. . . . Big Business was 
in favor of Prohibition, believing that a sober workman would 
make a better slave than one with a few drinks in him. It was 
in favor of all the gross robberies and extortions that went on 
during the war, and profited by all of them. It was in favor of 
all the crude throttling of free speech that was then under- 
taken in the name of patriotism, and is still in favor of it. 10 

As for John W. Davis, the Democratic candidate, Mencken noted 

that he was said to be a good lawyer — not, for Mencken, a favor- 
able recommendation, since lawyers 

are responsible for nine-tenths of the useless and vicious laws 
that now clutter the statute-books, and for all the evils that go 
with the vain attempt to enforce them. Every Federal judge is 
a lawyer. So are most Congressmen. Every invasion of the 
plain rights of the citizen has a lawyer behind it. If all lawyers 
were hanged tomorrow . . . we’d all be freer and safer, and our 
taxes would be reduced by almost a half. 

And what is more, 

Dr. Davis is a lawyer whose life has been devoted to protect- 
ing the great enterprises of Big Business. He used to work for 
J. Pierpont Morgan, and he has himself said that he is proud 
of the fact. Mr. Morgan is an international banker, engaged 
in squeezing nations that are hard up and in trouble. His 
operations are safeguarded for him by the manpower of the 
United States. He was one of the principal beneficiaries of 
the late war, and made millions out of it. The Government 
hospitals are now full of one-legged soldiers who gallantly 
protected his investments then, and the public schools are full 
of boys who will protect his investments tomorrow. 1 1 

10 H.L. Mencken, “Breathing Space,” Baltimore Evening Sun, August 4, 
1924; reprinted in H.L. Mencken, A Carnival of Buncombe (Baltimore: 
Johns Hopkins Press, 1956), pp. 83-84. 



The Betrayal of the American Right 

In fact, the following brief analysis of the postwar settlement com- 
bines Mencken’s assessment of the determining influence of Big 
Business with the bitterness of all the individualists at the war and 
its aftermath: 

When he was in the Senate Dr. Harding was known as a 
Standard Oil Senator — and Standard Oil, as everyone knows, 
was strongly against our going into the League of Nations, 
chiefly because England would run the league and be in a 
position to keep Americans out of the new oil fields in the 
Near East. The Morgans and their pawnbroker allies, of 
course, were equally strong for going in, since getting Uncle 
Sam under the English hoof would materially protect their 
English and other foreign investments. Thus the issue joined, 
and on the Tuesday following the first Monday of November 
1920, the Morgans, after six years of superb Geschaft under 
the Anglomaniacal Woodrow, got a bad beating. 12 

But as a result, Mencken went on, the Morgans decided to come 
to terms with the foe, and therefore, at the Lausanne Conference 
of 1922-23, “the English agreed to let the Standard Oil crowd in 
on the oil fields of the Levant,” and J.P. Morgan visited Harding at 
the White House, after which “Dr. Harding began to hear a voice 
from the burning bush counseling him to disregard the prejudice 
of the voters who elected him and to edge the U.S. into a Grand 
International Court of Justice.” 13 

While scarcely as well known as Mencken, Albert Nock more 
than any other person supplied twentieth-century libertarianism 
with a positive, systematic theory. In a series of essays in the 1923 
Freeman on “The State,” Nock built upon Herbert Spencer and 
the great German sociologist and follower of Henry George, 
Franz Oppenheimer, whose brilliant little classic, The State, 1 ' 1 ' had 

'“H.L. Mencken, “Next Year’s Struggle,” Baltimore Evening Sun, June 
11, 1923; reprinted in Mencken, A Carnival of Buncombe, pp. 56-57. 
13 Ibid. 

14 Albert Jay Nock, Our Enemy, the State (1922; New York: William 
Morrow, 1935), pp. 162ff. 

Origins of the Old Right II: The Tory Anarchism of Mencken and Nock 1 9 

just been reprinted. Oppenheimer had pointed out that man tries 
to acquire wealth in the easiest possible way, and that there were 
two mutually exclusive paths to obtain wealth. One was the peace- 
ful path of producing something and voluntarily exchanging that 
product for the product of someone else; this path of production 
and voluntary exchange Oppenheimer called the “economic 
means.” The other road to wealth was coercive expropriation: the 
seizure of the product of another by the use of violence. This 
Oppenheimer termed the “political means.” And from his histori- 
cal inquiry into the genesis of States Oppenheimer defined the 
State as the “organization of the political means.” Hence, Nock 
concluded, the State itself was evil, and was always the highroad by 
which varying groups could seize State power and use it to become 
an exploiting, or ruling, class, at the expense of the remainder of 
the ruled or subject population. Nock therefore defined the State 
as that institution which “claims and exercises the monopoly of 
crime” over a territorial area; “it forbids private murder, but itself 
organizes murder on a colossal scale. It punishes private theft, but 
itself lays unscrupulous hands on anything it wants. 

In his magnum opus, Our Enemy, the State, Nock expanded on 
his theory and applied it to American history, in particular the for- 
mation of the American Constitution. In contrast to the traditional 
conservative worshippers of the Constitution, Nock applied 
Charles A. Beard’s thesis to the history of America, seeing it as a 
succession of class rule by various groups of privileged business- 
men, and the Constitution as a strong national government 
brought into being in order to create and extend such privilege. 
The Constitution, wrote Nock, 

enabled an ever-closer centralization of control over the 
political means. For instance . . . many an industrialist could 
see the great primary advantage of being able to extend his 
exploiting opportunities over a nationwide free-trade area 
walled in by a general tariff. . . . Any speculator in depreciated 
public securities would be strongly for a system that could 
offer him the use of the political means to bring back their 

15 Ibid. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

face value. Any shipowner or foreign trader would be quick 
to see that his bread was buttered on the side of a national 
State which, if properly approached, might lend him the use 
of the political means by way of a subsidy, or would be able to 
back up some profitable but dubious freebooting enterprise 
with “diplomatic representations” or with reprisals. 

Nock concluded that those economic interests, in opposition to 
the mass of the nation’s farmers, “planned and executed a coup d'e- 
tat, simply tossing the Articles of Confederation into the wastebas- 
ket .” 16 

While the Nock-Oppenheimer class analysis superficially 
resembles that of Marx, and a Nockian would, like Lenin, look at 
all State action whatever in terms of “Who? Whom?” (Who is 
benefiting at the expense of Whom?), it is important to recognize 
the crucial differences. For while Nock and Marx would agree on 
the Oriental Despotic and feudal periods’ ruling classes in privi- 
lege over the ruled, they would differ on the analysis of business- 
men on the free market. For to Nock, antagonistic classes, the 
rulers and the ruled, can only be created by accession to State priv- 
ilege; it is the use of the State instrument that brings these antag- 
onistic classes into being. While Marx would agree on pre-capital- 
istic eras, he of course also concluded that businessmen and work- 
ers were in class antagonism to each other even in a free-market 
economy, with employers exploiting workers. To the Nockian, 
businessmen and workers are in harmony — as are everyone else — 
in the free market and free society, and it is only through State 
intervention that antagonistic classes are created . 17 

16 Ibid. 

17 This idea of classes as being created by States was the pre-Marxian 
idea of classes; two of its earliest theorists were the French individualist 
and libertarian thinkers of the post-Napoleonic Restoration period, 
Charles Comte and Charles Dim oyer. For several years after the 
Restoration, Comte and Dunoyer were the mentors of Count Saint- 
Simon, who adopted their class analysis; the later Saint-Simonians then 
modified it to include businessmen as being class-exploiters of workers, 

Origins of the Old Right II: The Tory Anarchism of Mencken and Nock 21 

Thus, to Nock the two basic classes at any time are those run- 
ning the State and those being run by it: as the Populist leader 
Sockless Jerry Simpson once put it, “the robbers and the robbed.” 
Nock therefore coined the concepts “State power” and “social 
power.” “Social power” was the power over nature exerted by free 
men in voluntary economic and social relationships; social power 
was the progress of civilization, its learning, its technology, its 
structure of capital investment. “State power” was the coercive and 
parasitic expropriation of social power for the benefit of the rulers: 
the use of the “political means” to wealth. The history of man, 
then, could be seen as an eternal race between social power and 
State power, with society creating and developing new wealth, 
later to be seized, controlled, and exploited by the State. 

No more than Mencken was Nock happy about the role of big 
business in the twentieth century’s onrush toward statism. We have 
already seen his caustic Beardian view toward the adoption of the 
Constitution. When the New Deal arrived, Nock could only snort 
in disdain at the mock wails about collectivism raised in various 
business circles: 

It is one of the few amusing things in our rather stodgy world 
that those who today are behaving most tremendously about 
collectivism and the Red menace are the very ones who have 
cajoled, bribed, flattered and bedeviled the State into taking 
each and every one of the successive steps that lead straight 
to collectivism. . . . Who hectored the State into the shipping 
business, and plumped for setting up the Shipping Board? 

Who pestered the State into setting up the Interstate Com- 
merce Commission and the Federal Farm Board? Who got 
the State to go into the transportation business on our inland 
waterways? Who is always urging the State to “regulate” and 

and the latter was adopted by Marx. I am indebted to Professor Leonard 
Liggio’s researches on Comte and Dunoyer. As far as I know, the only dis- 
cussion of them in English, and that inadequate, is Elie Halevy, The Era 
of Tyrannies (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Co., 1965), pp. 21-60. 
Gabriel Kolko’s critique of Marx’s theory of the State is done from a quite 
similar perspective. Gabriel Kolko, The Triumph of Conservatism 
(Glencoe, 111.: The Free Press, 1963), pp. 287ff. 


The Betrayal of the America n Right 

“supervise” this, that, and the other routine process of finan- 
cial, industrial, and commercial enterprise? Who took off his 
coat, rolled up his sleeves, and sweat blood hour after hour 
over helping the State construct the codes of the late- 
lamented National Recovery Act? None but the same Peter 
Schlemihl who is now half out of his mind about the 
approaching spectre of collectivism. 18 

Or, as Nock summed it up, 

The simple truth is that our businessmen do not want a gov- 
ernment that will let business alone. They want a govern- 
ment they can use. Offer them one made on Spencer’s model, 
and they would see the country blow up before they would 
accept it. 19 


Albert Jay Nock, “Imposter-Terms,” Atla?itic Monthly (February 
1936): 161-69. 

1 Nock to Ellen Winsor, August 22, 1938. F.W. Garrison, ed., Letters 
from Albert Jay Nock (Caldwell, Id.: Caxton Printers, 1949), p. 105. 


The New Deal and the 
Emergence of the Old Right 

D uring the 1920s, then, the emerging individualists and lib- 
ertarians — the Menckens, the Nocks, the Villards, and 
their followers — were generally considered Men of the 
Left; like the Left generally, they bitterly opposed the emergence 
of Big Government in twentieth-century America, a government 
allied with Big Business in a network of special privilege, a gov- 
ernment dictating the personal drinking habits of the citizenry and 
repressing civil liberties, a government that had enlisted as a jun- 
ior partner to British imperialism to push around nations across 
the globe. The individualists were opposed to this burgeoning of 
State monopoly, opposed to imperialism and militarism and for- 
eign wars, opposed to the Western-imposed Versailles Treaty and 
League of Nations, and they were generally allied with socialists 
and progressives in this opposition. 

All this changed, and changed drastically, however, with the 
advent of the New Deal. For the individualists saw the New Deal 
quite clearly as merely the logical extension of Hooverism and 
World War I: as the imposition of a fascistic government upon the 
economy and society, with a Bigness far worse than Theodore 
Roosevelt (“Roosevelt I” in Mencken’s label) or Wilson or Hoover 
had ever been able to achieve. The New Deal, with its burgeoning 
corporate state, run by Big Business and Big Unions as its junior 
partner, allied with corporate liberal intellectuals and using wel- 
farist rhetoric, was perceived by these libertarians as fascism come 
to America. And so their astonishment and bitterness were great 



The Betrayal of the American Right 

when they discovered that their former, and supposedly knowl- 
edgeable, allies, the socialists and progressives, instead of joining in 
with this insight, had rushed to embrace and even deify the New 
Deal, and to form its vanguard of intellectual apologists. This 
embrace by the Left was rapidly made unanimous when the Com- 
munist Party and its allies joined the parade with the advent of the 
Popular Front in 1935. And the younger generation of intellectu- 
als, many of whom had been followers of Mencken and Villard, 
cast aside their individualism to join the “working class” and to 
take their part as Brain Trusters and planners of the seemingly new 
Utopia taking shape in America. The spirit of technocratic dicta- 
tion over the American citizen was best expressed in the famous 
poem of Rex Tugwell, whose words were to be engraved in horror 
on all “right-wing” hearts throughout the country: 

I have gathered my tools and my charts, 

My plans are finished and practical. 

I shall roll up my sleeves — make America over. 

Only the few laissez-faire liberals saw the direct filiation between 
Hoover’s cartelist program and the fascistic cartelization imposed 
by the New Deal’s NRA and AAA, and few realized that the origin 
of these programs was specifically such Big Business collectivist 
plans as the famous Swope Plan, spawned by Gerard Swope, head 
of General Electric in late 1931, and adopted by most big business 
groups in the following year. It was, in fact, when Hoover refused 
to go this far, denouncing the plan as “fascism” even though he had 
himself been tending in that direction for years, that Henry I. Har- 
riman, head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, warned Hoover 
that Big Business would throw its weight to Roosevelt, who had 
agreed to enact the plan, and indeed was to carry out his agreement. 
Swope himself, Harriman, and their powerful mentor, the financier 
Bernard M. Baruch, were indeed heavily involved both in drafting 
and administering the NRA and AAA. 1 

'See Murray N. Rothbard, America ’s Great Depression (Princeton, N.J.: 
D. Van Nostrand Co., 1963), pp. 245-51. 

The New Deal and the Emergence of the Old Right 


The individualists and laissez-faire liberals were stunned and 
embittered, not just by the mass desertion of their former allies, 
but also by the abuse these allies now heaped upon them as “reac- 
tionaries” “fascists,” and “Neanderthals.” For decades Men of the 
Left, the individualists, without changing their position or per- 
spectives one iota, now found themselves bitterly attacked by their 
erstwhile allies as benighted “extreme right-wingers.” Thus, in 
December 1933, Nock wrote angrily to Canon Bernard Iddings 
Bell: “I see I am now rated as a Tory. So are you — ain’t it? What an 
ignorant blatherskite FDR must be! We have been called many bad 
names, you and I, but that one takes the prize.” Nock’s biographer 
adds that “Nock thought it odd that an announced radical, anar- 
chist, individualist, single-taxer and apostle of Spencer should be 
called conservative.” 2 

From being the leading intellectual of his day, Mencken was 
rapidly discarded by his readership as reactionary and passe', 
unequipped to deal with the era of the Depression. Retiring from 
the Mercury, and thereby deprived of a national forum, Mencken 
could only see his creation fall into New Deal-liberal hands. Nock, 
once the toast of the monthlies and reviews, virtually dropped 
from sight. Villard succumbed to the lure of the New Deal, and at 
any rate he retired as editor of the Nation in 1933, leaving that 
journal too in solidly New Deal-liberal hands. Only isolated cases 
remained: thus John T. Flynn, a muckraking economic journalist, 
writing for Harper's and the New Republic, criticized the Big Busi- 
ness and monopolizing origins of such crucial New Deal measures 
as the RFC and the NRA. 

Isolated and abused, treated by the New Dispensation as Men 
of the Right, the individualists had no alternative but to become, in 
effect, right-wingers, and to ally themselves with the conservatives, 
monopolists, Hooverites, etc., whom they had previously despised. 

^ Robert M. Crunden, The Mind and An of Albert Jay Nock (Chicago: 
Henry Regnery, 1964), p. 172. 


The Betrayal of the America n Right 

It was thus that the modern right wing, the “Old Right” in our 
terminology, came into being: in a coalition of fury and despair 
against the enormous acceleration of Big Government brought 
about by the New Deal. But the intriguing point is that, as the far 
larger and more respectable conservative groups took up the cudg- 
els against the New Deal, the only rhetoric, the only ideas available 
for them to use were precisely the libertarian and individualist 
views which they had previously scorned or ignored. Hence the 
sudden if highly superficial accession of these conservative Repub- 
licans and Democrats to the libertarian ranks. 

Thus, there were Herbert Hoover and the conservative Repub- 
licans, they who had done so much in the twenties and earlier to 
pave the way for New Deal corporatism, but who now balked 
strongly at going the whole way. Herbert Hoover himself suddenly 
jumped into the libertarian ranks with his anti-New Deal book of 
1934, Challenge to Liberty, which moved the bemused and wonder- 
ing Nock to exclaim: “Think of a book on such a subject, by such 
a man!” A prescient Nock wrote: 

Anyone who mentions liberty for the next two years will be 
supposed to be somehow beholden to the Republican party, 
just as anyone who mentioned it since 1917 was supposed to 
be a mouthpiece of the distillers and brewers. 3 

Such conservative Democrats as the former anti-Prohibitionists 
Jouett Shouse, John W. Davis, and Dupont’s John J. Raskob 
formed the American Liberty League as an anti-New Deal organ- 
ization, but this was only slightly less distasteful. While Nock 
wrote in his journal of his distrust at the dishonest origins of the 
League, he already showed willingness to consider an alliance: 

The thing may open the way occasionally for something . . . 
a little more intelligent and objective than the dreary run of 
propagandist outpouring. ... I shall look into it . . . and if a 
proper chance is open, I shall lend a hand. 4 

3 Albert Jav Nock, Journal of Forgotten Days (Hinsdale, 111.: Henry 
Regnery, 1948), p. 33. 

4 Ibid., pp. 44-45. 

The New Deal and the Emergence of the Old Right 


In fact, the individualists were in a bind at this sudden accession 
of old enemies as allies. On the positive side, it meant a rapid accel- 
eration of libertarian rhetoric on the part of numerous influential 
politicians. And, furthermore, there were no other conceivable 
political allies available. But, on the negative side, the acceptance 
of libertarian ideas by Hoover, the Liberty League, et al., was 
clearly superficial and in the realm of general rhetoric only; given 
their true preferences, not one of them would have accepted the 
Spencerian laissez-faire model for America. This meant that liber- 
tarianism, as spread throughout the land, would remain on a 
superficial and rhetorical level, and, furthermore, would tar all lib- 
ertarians, in the eyes of intellectuals, with the charge of duplicity 
and special pleading. 

In any case, however, the individualists had no place to go but 
an alliance with the conservative opponents of the New Deal. And 
so H.L. Mencken, formerly the most hated single person in the 
Right Left of the 1920s, now wrote for the conservative Liberty 
magazine, and concentrated his energies on opposition to the New 
Deal and on agitation for the Landon ticket in the 1936 campaign. 
And when the young libertarian Paul Palmer assumed the editor- 
ship of the American Mercury in 1936, Mencken and Nock cheer- 
fully signed on as regular columnists in opposition to the New 
Deal regime, with Nock as virtual coeditor. Fresh from the publi- 
cation of Our Enemy , the State, Nock, in his first column for the 
new Mercury, very astutely pointed out that the New Deal was a 
continuation of the very two things that the entire Left had hated 
in the statism of the 1920s: Prohibition and government aid to 
business. It was like Prohibition because in both cases a deter- 
mined minority of men “wished to do something to America for its 
own good,” and “both relied on force to achieve their ends”; it was 
like the 1920s economically because 

Coolidge had done his best to use the government to help busi- 
ness, and Roosevelt was doing exactly the same thing In other 

words, most Americans wanted government to help only them; 
this was the “American tradition” of ragged individualism. 5 

5 Crunden, Mind and Art, pp. 164-65. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

But the attempt was hopeless; in the eyes of the bulk of the 
intellectuals and of the general public, Nock, Mencken, and the 
individualists were, simply, “conservatives,” and “extreme right- 
ists,” and the label stuck. In one sense, the “conservative” label for 
Nock and Mencken was, and had been, correct, as it is for all indi- 
vidualists, in the sense that the individualist believes in human dif- 
ferences and therefore in inequalities. These are, to be sure, “nat- 
ural” inequalities, which, in the Jeffersonian sense, would arise out 
of a free society as “natural aristocracies”; and these contrast 
sharply with the “artificial” inequalities that statist policies of caste 
and special privilege impose on society. But the individualist must 
always be antiegalitarian. Mencken had always been a frank and 
joyous “elitist” in this sense, and at least as strongly opposed to 
democratic egalitarian government as to all other forms of gov- 
ernment. But Mencken emphasized that, as in the free market, “an 
aristocracy must constantly justify its existence. In other words, 
there must be no artificial conversion of its present strength into 
perpetual rights.” 6 7 Nock came by this elitism gradually over the 
years, and it reached its full flowering by the late 1920s. Out of this 
developed position came Nock’s brilliant and prophetic, though 
completely forgotten, Theory of Education in the United States, 1 
which had grown out of 193 1 lectures at the University of Virginia. 

A champion of the older, classical education, Nock chided the 
typical conservative detractors of John Dewey’s progressive educa- 
tional innovations for missing the entire point. These conserva- 
tives attacked modern education for following Dewey’s views in 
shifting from the classical education to a proliferating kitchen- 
midden of vocational and what would now be called “relevant” 
courses, courses in driver-education, basket-weaving, etc. Nock 
pointed out that the problem was not with vocational courses per 
se, but with the accelerating commitment in America to the con- 
cept of mass education. The classical education confined itself to a 

6 Robert R. LaMonte and H.L. Mencken, Men versus the Man (New 
York: Henry Holt and Co., 1910), p. 73. 

7 New York: Harcourt Brace, 1932. 

The New Deal and the Emergence of the Old Right 


small minority, an elite, of the youth population. And only a small 
minority, according to Nock, is really “educable,” and thus suitable 
for this sort of curriculum. Spread the idea that everyone must have 
a higher education, however, bring the great mass of ineducable 
youth into the schools, and the schools necessarily have to turn to 
basket-weaving and driver-ed courses, to mere vocational training, 
instead of genuine education. Nock clearly believed, then, that the 
compulsory attendance laws, as well as the new great myth that 
everyone must graduate from high school and college, was wreck- 
ing the lives of most of the young, forcing them into jobs and occu- 
pations for which they were not suitable and which they disliked, 
and also wrecking the educational system in the process. 

It is clear that, from an equally libertarian (though from a “right- 
wing” rather than a “left-wing” anarchist) perspective, Nock was 
anticipating a very similar position by Paul Goodman thirty and 
forty years later. While clothed in egalitarian rhetoric, Goodman’s 
view equally condemns the current system, including compulsory 
attendance laws, for forcing a mass of kids into school when they 
should really be out working in purposeful and relevant jobs. 

One of the most forceful aspects of the developing ideology of 
the Right was the focusing on the dangers of the growing tyranny 
of the Executive, and especially the President, at the expense of the 
withering of power everywhere else in society: in the Congress and 
in the judiciary, in the states, and among the citizenry. More and 
more power was being centered in the President and the Executive 
branch; the Congress was being reduced to a rubber stamp of 
Executive decrees, the states to servitors of federal largesse. Regu- 
latory bureaus substituted their own arbitrary decrees, or “admin- 
istrative law,” for the normal, even-handed process of the courts. 
Again and again, the Liberty League and other Rightists ham- 
mered away at the enormous accession of Executive power. It was 
this apprehension that led to the storm, and the defeat of the 
administration, over the famous plan to “pack” the Supreme Court 
in 1937, a defeat engineered by frightened liberals who had previ- 
ously gone along with all New Deal legislation. 

Gabriel Kolko, in his brilliant Triumph of Conservatism, has 
pointed out the grave error in liberal and Old Left historiography 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

of the alleged “reactionary” role of the Supreme Court in the late 
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in striking down regula- 
tory legislation. The Court has always been treated as a spokesman 
of Big Business interests trying to obstruct progressive measures; 
in truth, these judges were honest believers in laissez-faire who 
were trying to block statist measures engineered by Big Business 
interests. The same may one day be said of the “reactionary” Nine 
Old Men who struck down New Deal legislation in the 1930s. 

One of the most sparkling and influential attacks on the New 
Deal was written in 1938 by the well-known writer and editor 
Caret Garrett. Garrett began his pamphlet “The Revolution Was” 
on a startlingly perceptive note: conservatives, he wrote, were 
mobilizing to try to prevent a statist revolution from being 
imposed by the New Deal; but this revolution had already 
occurred. As Garrett beautifully put it in his opening sentences: 

There are those who still think they are holding the pass 
against a revolution that may be coming up the road. But they 
are gazing in the wrong direction. The revolution is behind 
them. It went by in the Night of Depression, singing songs to 
freedom. 8 

The New Deal, Garrett charged, was a systematic “revolution 
within the form” of American laws and customs. The New Deal 
was not, as it superficially seemed to be, a contradictory and capri- 
cious mass of pragmatic error. 

In a revolutionary situation mistakes and failures are not what 
they seem. They are scaffolding. Error is not repealed. It is 
compounded by a longer law, by more decrees and regula- 
tions, by further extensions of the administrative hand. As 
deLawd said in The Green Pastures, that when you have passed 
a miracle you have to pass another one to take care of it, so it 
was with the New Deal. Every miracle it passed, whether it 
went right or wrong, had one result. Executive power over 
the social and economic life of the nation was increased. 


Caret Garrett, “The Revolution Was,” in The People's Pottage 
(Caldwell, Id.: Printers, 1953), p. 15. 

The New Deal and the Emergence of the Old Right 


Draw a curve to represent the rise of executive power and 

look there for mistakes. You will not find them. The curve is 



The New Deal and businessmen were using words in two very 
different senses, added Garrett, when each spoke of preserving the 
“American system of free private enterprise.” To the businessmen 
these words “stand for a world that is in danger and may have to 
be defended.” But to the New Deal they “stand for a conquered 
province,” and the New Deal has the correct interpretation, for 
the “ultimate power of initiative” has passed from private enter- 
prise to government. Led by a revolutionary elite of intellectuals, 
the New Deal centralized political and economic power in the 
Executive, and Garrett traced this process step by step. As a con- 
sequence, the “ultimate power of initiative” passed from private 
enterprise to government, which “became the great capitalist and 
enterpriser. Unconsciously business concedes the fact when it talks 
of a mixed economy, even accepts it as inevitable .” 9 10 

9 Ibid., pp. 16-17. 

10 Ibid., p. 72. 


Isolationism and the 
Foreign New Deal 

D uring World War I and the 1920s, “isolationism,” that is, 
opposition to American wars and foreign intervention, was 
considered a Left phenomenon, and so even the laissez-faire 
isolationists and Revisionists were considered to be “leftists.” Oppo- 
sition to the postwar Versailles system in Europe was considered lib- 
eral or radical; “conservatives,” on the other hand, were the propo- 
nents of American war and expansion and of the Versailles Treaty. In 
fact, Nesta Webster, the Englishwoman who served as the dean of 
twentieth century anti-Semitic historiography, melded opposition to 
the Al lied war effort with socialism and communism as the prime 
evils of the age. Similarly, as late as the mid- 193 Os, to the rightist Mrs. 
Elizabeth Dilling pacifism was, per se, a “Red” evil. Not only were 
such lifelong pacifists as Kirby Page, Dorothy Detzer, and Norman 
Thomas considered to be “Reds”; but Mrs. Dilling similarly casti- 
gated General Snredley D. Butler, former head of the Marine Corps 
and considered a “fascist” by the Left, for daring to charge that 
Marine Corps interventions in Latin America had been a “Wall 
Street racket.” Not only was the Nye Committee of the mid-thirties 
to investigate munitions makers and U.S. foreign policy in World 
War I, but also old progressives such as Senators Burton K. Wheeler 
and especially laissez-fairist William E. Borah were condemned as 
crucial parts of the pervasive Communistic “Red Network.” 1 

Elizabeth Dilling, The Roosevelt Red Record and Its Background 
(Chicago: Elizabeth Dilling, 1936). 



The Betrayal of the American Right 

And yet, in a few short years, the ranking of isolationism on the 
ideological spectrum was to undergo a sudden and dramatic shift. 
In the late 1930s, the Roosevelt administration moved rapidly 
toward war in Europe and the Far East. As it did so, and especially 
after war broke out in September 1939, the great bulk of the lib- 
erals and the Left “flip-flopped” drastically on behalf of war and 
foreign intervention. Gone without a trace was the old Left’s 
insight into the evils of the Versailles Treaty, the Allied dismem- 
berment of Germany, and the need for revision of the treaty. Gone 
was the old opposition to American militarism, and to American 
and British imperialism. Not only that; but to the liberals and Left 
the impending war against Germany and even Japan became a 
great moral crusade, a “people’s war for democracy” and against 
“fascism” — outrivaling in the absurdity of their rhetoric the very 
Wilsonian apologia for World War I that these same liberals had 
repudiated for two decades. The President who was dragging the 
nation reluctantly into war was now lauded and almost deified by 
the Left, as were in retrospect all of the strong (i.e., dictatorial) 
Presidents throughout American history. For liberals and the Left 
the Pantheon of America now became, in almost endless litany, 
Jackson- Lincoln- Wilson-FDR. 

Still worse was the attitude of these new interventionists 
toward those erstwhile friends and allies who continued to persist 
in their old beliefs; these latter were now castigated and 
denounced day in and day out, with extreme bitterness and 
venom, as “reactionaries,” “fascists,” “anti-Semites, and “follow- 
ers of the Goebbels line.” 2 Joining with great enthusiasm in this 
smear campaign was the Communist Party and its allies, from the 
“collective security” campaign of the Soviet Union in the late 
1930s and again after the Nazi attack on Russia on June 22, 1941. 
Before and during the war the Communists were delighted to leap 
to their newfound role as American superpatriots, proclaiming 
that “Communism is twentieth-century Americanism,” and that 

2 For the grisly record of the liberal flip-flop, see James J. Martin, 
American Liberalism and World Politics, 2 vols. (New York: Devin-Adair, 

Isolationism and the Foreign New Deal 


any campaign for social justice within America had to take a back 
seat to the sacred goal of victory in the war. The only exception for 
the Communists in this role was their “isolationist period” — 
which, again in subservience to the needs of the Soviet Union, 
lasted from the time of the Stalin-Hitler pact of August 1 93 9 to the 
attack on Russia two years later. 

The pressure upon the liberals and progressives who continued 
to oppose the coming war was unbelievably bitter and intense. 
Many personal tragedies resulted. Charles A. Beard, distinguished 
historian and most eminent of Revisionists, was castigated unmer- 
cifully by the liberals, many of them his former students and disci- 
ples. Dr. Harry Elmer Barnes, the liberal dean of World War I 
(and later World War II) revisionists, whose New York World 
Telegram column “The Liberal Viewpoint” had achieved the emi- 
nence of Walter Lippmann, was unceremoniously kicked out of his 
column in May 1940 by the pressure of pro-war advertisers. 3 

Typical of the treatment accorded to those who held fast to 
their principles was the purgation from the ranks of liberal jour- 
nalism of John T. Flynn and Oswald Garrison Villard. In his regu- 
lar column in the Nation, Villard had continued to oppose Roo- 
sevelt’s “abominable militarism” and his drive to war. For his pains, 
Villard was forced out of the magazine that he had long served as 
a distinguished editor. In his “Valedictory” in the issue of June 22, 
1940, Villard declared that “my retirement has been precipitated 
by the editors’ abandonment of the Nation's steadfast opposition to 
all preparations for war, for this in my judgment has been the chief 
glory of its great and honorable past.” In a letter to the editor, 
Freda Kirchwey, Villard wondered how it was that 

Freda Kirchwey, a pacifist in the last war, keen to see through 

shams and hypocrisy, militant for the rights of minorities and 

3 Clyde R. Miller, “Harry Elmer Barnes’ Experience in Journalism,” in 
Hatry Elmer Barnes: Learned Crusader, A. Goddard, ed. (Colorado 
Springs, Colo.: Ralph Myles, 1968), pp. 702-04. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

the downtrodden had now struck hands with all the forces of 
reaction against which the Nation had battled so strongly. 

Kirchwey’s editorial reply was characteristic: such writings as Al- 
lard’s were frightening, and “a danger more present than Fascism,” 
for Allard’s policy was “exactly the policy for America that the 
Nazi propaganda in this country supports.” 4 

John T. Flynn, in his turn, was booted out of his column 
“Other People’s Money” in November 1940; the column had 
appeared continuously in the New Republic since May 1933. Again, 
the now pro-war editors could not tolerate Flynn’s continuing 
attacks on war preparations and on the artificial boom induced by 
armament spending. 

Neither did the old-time libertarian leaders fare much better. 
When the libertarian and isolationist Paul Palmer lost his editor- 
ship of the American Mercury in 1939, FI.L. Mencken and Albert 
Jay Nock lost their monthly opportunity to lambaste the New 
Deal. His national outlet gone, Mencken retired from politics and 
into autobiography and his study of the American language. Apart 
from a few essays in the Atlantic Monthly, Nock could find an out- 
let only in the isolationist Scribner's Commentator, which folded 
after Pearl Harbor and left Nock with no opportunity whatever to 
be heard. In the meanwhile, Nock’s personal disciples, who con- 
stituted the libertarian wing of the Henry George movement, 
were dealt a heavy blow when his outstanding disciple, Frank 
Chodorov, was fired as director of the Henry George School of 
New York for maintaining his opposition to American entry into 
the war. 

But Nock had managed to get in a few blows before the chang- 
ing of the guard at the Mercury. Nock had warned that the emerg- 
ing war in Europe was the old story of competing imperialisms, 

4 Martin, American Liberalism and World Politics, pp. 1155-56; Michael 
Wreszin, Oswald Garrison Villard (Bloomington: Indiana University 
Press, 1965), pp. 259-63. 

Isolationism and the Foreign New Deal 


with the Liberals available, once again, to provide ideological 
cover with such Wilsonian slogans as “make the world safe for 
democracy.” Nock commented scornfully that “make the world 
safe for U.S. investments, privileges, and markets” far better 
expressed the real intent of the coming intervention. Thus “after 
the sorry sight which American Liberals made of themselves 
twenty years ago,” they were ready once again “to save us from the 
horrors of war and militarism [by] plunging us into war and mili- 
tarism.” Decrying the developing hysteria about the foreign 
Enemy, Nock pinpointed the true danger to liberty at home: 

No alien State policy will ever disturb us unless our Govern- 
ment puts us in the way of it. We are in no danger whatever 
from any government except our own, and the danger from 
that is very great; therefore our own Government is the one 
to be watched and kept on a short leash. 5 

The opponents of war were not only being shut out from lib- 
eral journals and organizations but from much of the mass media 
as well. As the Roosevelt administration moved inexorably toward 
war, much of the Establishment that had been repelled by the left- 
wing rhetoric of the New Deal eagerly made its peace with the 
government, and swiftly moved into positions of power. In Roo- 
sevelt’s own famous phrase, “Dr. New Deal” had been replaced by 
“Dr. Win the War,” and, as the armaments orders poured in, the 
conservative elements of Big Business were back in the fold: in par- 
ticular, the Wall Street and Eastern Establishment, the bankers 
and industrialists, the Morgan interests, the Ivy League Entente, 
all happily returned to the good old days of World War I and the 
battle of the British Empire against Germany. The new reconcili- 
ation was typified by the return to a high government post of the 
prominent Wall Street lawyer Dean Acheson, now in the State 
Department, who had departed his post of Undersecretary of the 
Treasury in the early 1930s in high dudgeon at Roosevelt’s 

5 Albert Jay Nock, “The Amazing Liberal Mind,” American Mercury 
44, no. 176 (August 1938): 467-72. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

unsound monetary and fiscal schemes. Still more significant was 
FDR’s appointment as Secretary of War in June 1940 of a man who 
virtually embodied the wealthy Eastern Establishment — Acheson’s 
mentor, Elenry Lewis Stimson: a conservative, pro-war and impe- 
rialist Republican Wall Street lawyer close to the Morgan interests 
who had been a devoted follower of Teddy Roosevelt, Secretary of 
War under Taft, and Secretary of State under Eloover. The fruit of 
the new policy was the famous “Willkie blitz” at the Republican 
national convention, in which the 1940 Republican nomination 
was virtually stolen from the antiwar favorites for the presidency, 
Senator Robert A. Taft and Thomas E. Dewey. A tremendous Wall 
Street pressure campaign, using all the devices of the Eastern-con- 
trolled media and blackmail of delegates by Wall Street bankers, 
swung the nomination to the unknown but safely pro-intervention 
big businessman, Wendell Willkie. 

If the Eastern Big Business conservatives were solidly back in 
the Roosevelt camp on the agreed program of entering the war, 
why were interventionist forces successful in pinning the 
“extreme right-wing” label on the anti-interventionist or “isola- 
tionist” position? For two reasons. First, because the Old Left and 
the official organs of liberalism had been captured by the pro-war 
forces, who had successfully purged the liberal media of all those 
who continued to cling to their original principles of antiwar lib- 
eralism and leftism. The pro-war liberals were thereby able to 
serve as the intellectual apologists for the Roosevelt administra- 
tion and the Eastern Establishment, spearheading the latter in vil- 
ifying the isolationists as “reactionaries,” “Neanderthals,” and 
tools of the Nazis. And second, not all of business had swung into 
line behind the war. Much of Midwestern capital, not tied to 
investments in Europe and Asia, was able to reflect the isolation- 
ist sentiments of the people of their region. Midwestern and 
small-town business were therefore the stronghold of isolationist 
sentiment, and the pre-war years saw a powerful struggle between 
the mighty Eastern and Wall Street interests tied to foreign 
investments and foreign markets, and Midwestern capital who had 
few such ties. It was no accident, for example, that the America 
First Committee, the leading antiwar organization, was founded 

Isolationism and the Foreign New Deal 


by R. Douglas Stuart, then a student at Yale but a scion of the 
Chicago Quaker Oats fortune, or that leading supporters of the 
organization were General Robert E. Wood, head of Sears Roe- 
buck of Chicago, and Colonel Robert R. McCormick, publisher 
of the Chicago Tribune. Or that the isolationist leader in the Sen- 
ate, Robert A. Taft, came from the leading family of Cincinnati. 
But the Eastern propagandists were cunningly able to use this 
split to spread the image of their opposition as narrow, provincial, 
small-minded, reactionary Midwesterners, not attuned as they 
themselves were to the great, cosmopolitan affairs of Europe and 

Taft (who had been denounced as a dangerous “progressive” by 
Mrs. Dilling only a few years before) was particularly exercised at 
being dismissed by the Establishment-liberal-Left alliance as an 
ultra-conservative. The occasion of Senator Taft’s critical analysis 
arose from an essay published just before Pearl Harbor, by a 
young Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. {Nation, December 6, 1941). Ever 
ready to pin the “business” label on opposition to liberalism, 
Schlesinger attacked the Republican Party as reflecting a business 
community dragging its heels on entry into the war. Senator Taft, 
in a rebuttal that appeared the week after Pearl Harbor {Nation, 
December 13, 1941) sharply and keenly corrected Schlesinger’s 
view of the true locus of “conservatism” within the Republican 

Nor is Mr. Schlesinger correct in attributing the position of 
the majority of Republicans to their conservatism. The most 
conservative members of the party — the Wall Street bankers, 
the society group, nine-tenths of the plutocratic newspapers, 
and most of the party’s financial contributors — are the ones 
who favor intervention in Europe. Mr. Schlesinger’s state- 
ment that the business community in general had tended to 
favor appeasing Hitler is simply untrue. . . . 

I should say without question that it is the average man 
and woman — the farmer, the workman, except for a few pro- 
British labor leaders, and the small business man — who are 
opposed to the war. The war party is made up of the business 
community of the cities, the newspaper and magazine writers, 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

the radio and movie commentators, the Communists, and the 
university intelligentsia. 6 

In short, in many ways the struggle was a populist one, between 
the mass of the populace opposed to the war and the elite groups 
in control of the national levers of power and of the molding of 
public opinion. 

Thus, the drive of the New Deal toward war once again 
reshuffled the ideological spectrum and the meaning of Left and 
Right in American politics. The left and liberal opponents of war 
were hounded out of the media and journals of opinion by their 
erstwhile allies, and condemned as reactionaries and Neanderthals. 
These men, as well as old progressives hailed by the Left a few 
short years before (such as Senators Nye, LaFollette, and 
Wheeler) found themselves forced into a new alliance with laissez- 
faire Republicans from the Middle West. Damned everywhere as 
“ultra-conservatives” and “extreme Rightists,” many of these allies 
found themselves moving “rightward” ideologically as well, mov- 
ing toward the laissez-faire liberalism of the only mass base yet 
open to them. In many ways, their move rightward was a self-ful- 
filling prophecy by the Left. Thus, under the hammer blows of the 
Left-liberal Establishment, the old progressive isolationists moved 
laissez-faire - ward as well. It was under this pressure that the forg- 
ing of the “old Right” was completed. And the ugly role of the 
Communist Party as spearhead of the smear campaign under- 
standably turned many of these progressives not only into classical 
liberals but into thoroughgoing and almost fanatical anti-Commu- 
nists as well. This is what happened to John T. Flynn and to John 
Dos Passos, what happened to some extent to Charles A. Beard, 
and what happened to such former sympathizers of the Soviet 
Union as John Chamberlain, Freda Utley, and William Henry 
Chamberlin. To a large extent, it was their uncomfortable “Third 
Camp” or isolationist position on the war that started such leading 
Trotskyites as Max Schachtman and James Burnham down the 

6 Quoted in Martin, American Liberalism and World Politics, p. 1278. 

Isolationism and the Foreign New Deal 


road to the later global anti-Communist crusade, and that led the 
Trotskyist-pacifist Dwight MacDonald to his bitter opposition to 
the Henry Wallace campaign of 1948. 

The venom directed against the opponents of war by the left- 
liberal Establishment war coalition was almost unbelievable. 
Responsible publicists regularly and systematically accused the iso- 
lationists of being “fascists” and members of a “Nazi transmission 
belt.” Walter Winchell, at the beginning of his longtime career as 
calumniator of all dissent against American war crusades (he was 
later a fervent supporter of Joe McCarthy and always, early and 
late, a devoted fan of the FBI), led in denouncing the opponents of 
war. While Communist leader William Z. Foster denounced isola- 
tionist leaders General Wood and Colonel Charles A. Findbergh 
as “conscious Fascists,” interventionist publicist Dorothy Thomp- 
son accused the America First Committee of being “Vichy Fas- 
cists,” and Secretary of the Interior Harold C. Ickes, the bully-boy 
of the Roosevelt administration, denounced Wood and Findbergh 
as “Nazi fellow travelers,” and pinned the same label on his old 
friend Oswald Garrison Villard. And Time and Life, whose pub- 
lisher Henry Fuce was an ardent supporter not only of our entry 
into the war but also of the “American Century” which he envi- 
sioned as emerging after the war, stooped so low as to claim that 
Findbergh’s and Senator Wheeler’s salutes to the American flag 
were similar to the fascist salute. An organization that became 
almost a professional vilifier of the isolationists was the left-liberal 
Rev. Feon M. Birkhead’s Friends of Democracy, which denounced 
the America First Committee as a “Nazi front! It is a transmission 
belt by means of which the apostles of Nazism are spreading their 
antidemocratic ideas into millions of American homes!” 7 

The oppression of the isolationists was not confined to vilifica- 
tion or loss of employment. In numerous cities, such as Miami, 
Atlanta, Oklahoma City, Portland, Oregon, Pittsburgh, and 


See Wayne S. Cole, America First (Madison: University of Wisconsin 
Press, 1953), pp. 107-10. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Philadelphia, the America First Committee found it difficult or 
impossible to obtain halls for public meetings. Another tactic that 
was used systematically before, during, and immediately after the 
war was private espionage against the Old Right by interventionist 
groups. These agents employed deception, abused confidences, 
stole documents, and then published sensationalistic findings. 
Sometimes these agents acted as agents provocateurs. The most 
famous use of private secret agents was that of the Friends of 
Democracy, who sent Avedis Derounian into the isolationist 
groups under the name of “John Roy Carlson”; Carlson’s report on 
his adventures was published as the bestselling Under Cover by 
Dutton in 1943. Carlson’s book lumped isolationists, anti-Semites, 
and actual pro-Nazis together, in a potpourri of guilt by associa- 
tion, as constituting the “Nazi underworld of America.” Under 
Cover was dedicated to the “official under cover men and women 
who, unnamed and unsung, are fighting the common enemy of 
Democracy on the military front abroad and the psychological 
front at home,” and the book opened with a quotation from Walt 

Thunder on! Stride on, Democracy! 

Strike with vengeful stroke! 

Carlson and his cohorts were certainly being avid in pursuing 
Whitman’s injunction. 

So virulent was the smear campaign that at the end of the war 
John T. Flynn was moved to write an anguished pamphlet in 
protest called The Smear Terror. It was typical of the time that, 
while Carlson’s farrago was a bestseller that received sober and 
favorable appraisal in the pages of the New York Times , Flynn’s 
rebuttal could emerge only as a privately printed pamphlet, 
unknown except to what would now be called an “underground” of 
dedicated right-wing readers. 

One of the most common accusations against the isolationists 
was the charge of anti-Semitism. While the ranks of the Old Right 
included some genuine anti-Semites, the pro-war propagandists 
were hardly scrupulous or interested in making subtle distinctions; 

Isolationism and the Foreign New Deal 


all of the isolationists were simply lumped together as anti- 
Semitic, despite the fact that the America First Committee, for 
example, included a great many Jews on its staff and research 
bureau. The situation was complicated by the fact that the vast 
bulk of American Jewry was undoubtedly in favor of American 
entry into the war, and virtually deified Franklin Roosevelt for 
entering the war, as they thought, to “save the Jews.” 8 

Influential Jews and Jewish organizations helped agitate for 
war, and helped also to put economic pressure upon opponents of 
the war. This very fact of course served to embitter many isola- 
tionists against the Jews, and again create a kind of self-fulfilling 
prophecy; this resentment was intensified by the hysterical treat- 
ment accorded to any isolationist who dared to so much as men- 
tion these activities by Jews. In early 1942, the Saturday Evening 
Post printed an article critical of Jews by the liberal pacifist Quaker 
Milton Mayer, an act that was used by the Establishment to fire the 
conservative and isolationist editor Wesley N. Stout and his entire 
editorial staff (which included Caret Garrett) and replace them 
with conservative interventionists. 

The most famous case of flak on phony charges of anti-Semi- 
tism stemmed from the celebrated speech of Charles A. Lindbergh 
at Des Moines on September 11, 1941. The most popular and 
charismatic of all opponents of the war and a man who was essen- 
tially nonpolitical, Lindbergh had been subjected to particular 
abuse by the Interventionist forces. The son of a progressive Con- 
gressman from Minnesota who had staunchly opposed entry into 
World War I, Lindbergh particularly angered the war forces not 
only for his charisma and popularity but also because of his obvious 
sincerity and his all-out position against any aid to Britain and 
Lrance whatever. While most of the isolationists temporized, favor- 
ing some aid to Britain and worrying about a possible German 
attack on the U.S., Lindbergh clearly and consistently advocated 

8 In fact, Roosevelt’s devotion to saving the Jews was minimal, as can 
be seen from such recent “revisionist” books on the subject as Arthur D. 
Morse, While Six Million Died (New York: Random House, 1968). 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

absolute neutrality and hoped for a negotiated peace in Europe. 
The matter was made still more piquant because Lindbergh was in 
a way a “traitor to his class,” since his wife, Anne Morrow, also a 
distinguished opponent of the war, was the daughter of a leading 
Morgan partner and virtually the only member of her family and 
circle not enthusiastic about the war. 

After many months of unremitting abuse (e.g., the ultrainter- 
ventionist playwright Robert E. Sherwood had flatly called Lind- 
bergh a “Nazi” in the august pages of the New York Times), Lind- 
bergh calmly mentioned the specific forces that were driving the 
United States toward war. It is obvious from his memoirs that 
poor, naive, honest Charles Lindbergh had no idea of the hysteria 
that would be unleashed when he pointed out that 

the three most important groups who have been pressing this 
country toward war are the British, the Jewish, and the Roo- 
sevelt administration. Behind these groups, but of lesser 
importance, are a number of capitalists, Anglophiles, and 
intellectuals who believe that their future, and the future of 
mankind, depends upon the domination of the British 

Neither did it help Lindbergh that he added, 

It is not difficult to understand why Jewish people desire the 
overthrow of Nazi Germany. The persecution they suffered 
in Germany would be sufficient to make bitter enemies of any 
race. No person with a sense of the dignity of mankind can 
condone the persecution the Jewish race suffered in Ger- 
many. 9 

The abuse of Lindbergh was a veritable torrent now, with the 
White House press secretary comparing the speech to Nazi prop- 
aganda, while the New Republic called upon the National Associa- 
tion of Broadcasters to censor all of Lindbergh’s future speeches. 

^Quoted in Wayne S. Cole, America First: The Battle Against 
Intervention, 1940-1941 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1953), 
p. 144). 

Isolationism and the Foreign New Deal 


Frightened General Robert E. Wood, head of America First, 
almost dissolved the organization on the spot. 10 

Calumny, social obloquy, private espionage — these were not all 
the hardships faced by the isolationist “Old Right.” As soon as the 
war began, the Roosevelt administration turned to the secular arm 
to smash any remnants of isolationist dissent. In addition to rou- 
tine FBI harassment, such isolationists as Laura Ingalls, George 
Sylvester VIereck, and Ralph Townsend were indicted and con- 
victed for being German and Japanese agents respectively. William 
Dudley Pelley, along with 27 other isolationists, was tried and con- 
victed in Indianapolis of “sedition” under the Espionage Act of 
1917. The infamous Smith Act of 1940 was used, first to convict 
18 Minneapolis Trotskyists of conspiracy to advocate overthrow of 
the government (to the great glee of the Communist Party), and 
then to move, in the mass sedition trial of 1944, against an ill- 
assorted collection of 26 right-wing isolationist pamphleteers with 

10 Lindbergh’s puzzled reaction to criticisms of his speech by more 

politically minded isolationists was characteristic. Thus: 

John Flynn . . . says he does not question the truth of what I 
said at Des Moines, but feels it was inadvisable to mention the 
Jewish problem. It is difficult for me to understand Flynn’s atti- 
tude. He feels as strongly as 1 do that the Jews are among the 
major influences pushing this country toward war. . . . He is 
perfectly willing to talk about it among a small group of people 
in private. But apparently he would rather see us get into the 
war than mention in public what the Jews are doing, no matter 
how tolerantly and moderately it is done. 

Also his conversation with Herbert Hoover: 

Hoover told me he felt my Des Moines speech was a mistake. 

... I told him I felt my statements had been both moderate and 
true. He replied that when you had been in politics long 
enough you learned not to say things just because they are true. 

(But after all, I am not a politician — and that is one of the rea- 
sons why I don’t wish to be one.) (Charles A. Lindbergh, The 
Wartime Journals of Charles A. Lindbergh [New York: Harcourt 
Brace Jovanovich, 1970], pp. 541, and 546-47) 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

the charge of contriving to cause insubordination in the armed 
forces. The prosecution of those who were universally described in 
the press as the “indicted seditionists” was pursued with great zeal 
by the Communist Party and its allies, the Old Left generally, and 
such Establishment hacks as Walter Winchell. To the chagrin of 
the Left and Center, the trial fizzled as a result of the spirited legal 
defense, especially the defense led by the brilliant defendant 
Lawrence Dennis, a leading isolationist intellectual who has gen- 
erally, and with little foundation, been called the “leading Ameri- 
can fascist.” The death of presiding Judge Eicher — a signal for the 
Left to charge that he had been “murdered” by the persistent 
defense — provided the opportunity for the government to drop 
the case, despite the insistence of the Left that the persecution be 
resumed . 11 

All in all, the Old Right was understandably gloomy as it con- 
templated the inevitable approach of war. It foresaw that World 
War II would transform America into a Leviathan State, into a 
domestic totalitarian collectivism, with suppression of civil liber- 
ties at home, joined to an unending global imperialism abroad, 

11 An excellent and detailed account of the mass sedition trial can be 
found in the totally neglected book, Maximilian St. George and 
Lawrence Dennis, A Trial on Trial (National Civil Rights Committee, 
1946). St. George and Dennis were astute enough to see the irony in the 
fact that “many of the defendants, being fanatical anti-Communists,” had 
openly supported the Smith Act of 1940 under which they were to be 
indicted. “The moral,” St. George and the “fascist” Dennis added, 
is one of the major points of this book: laws intended to get one 
crowd may well be used by them to get the authors and back- 
ers of the law. This is just another good argument for civil lib- 
erties and freedom of speech. (Ibid., p. 83) 

One particularly striking parallel of this mass sedition trial with the 
Chicago conspiracy trial a generation later was that Justice Eicher, 
notably hostile to the defense, had Henry H. Klein, a lawyer for one of 
the defendants who had withdrawn from the case, hauled back to the 
court and jailed for withdrawing from the case without the judge’s per- 
mission. Ibid., p. 404. 

Isolationism and the Foreign New Deal 


pursuing what Charles A. Beard called a policy of “perpetual war 
for perpetual peace.” None of the Old Right saw this vision of the 
coming America more perceptively than John T. Flynn, in his bril- 
liant work As We Go Marching, written in the midst of the war he 
had done so much to forestall. After surveying the polity and the 
economy of fascism and National Socialism, Flynn bluntly saw the 
New Deal, culminating in the wartime society, as the American 
version of fascism, the “good fascism” in sardonic contrast to the 
“bad fascism” we had supposedly gone to war to eradicate. Flynn 
saw that the New Deal had finally established the corporate state 
that big business had been yearning for since the end of the nine- 
teenth century. The New Deal planners, declared Flynn, 

were thinking of a change in our form of society in which the 
government would insert itself into the structure of business, 
not merely as policeman, but as a partner, collaborator, and 
banker. But the general idea was first to reorder the society 
by making it a planned and coerced economy instead of a 
free one, in which business would be brought together into 
great guilds or an immense corporative structure, combining 
the elements of self-rule and government supervision with a 
national economic policing system to enforce these decrees. 

. . . This, after all, is not so very far from what business had 
been talking about. ... It was willing to accept the supervi- 
sion of the government. . . . Business said that orderly self- 
government in business would eliminate most of the causes 
that infected the organism with the germs of crises. 1 " 

The first great attempt of the New Deal to create such a soci- 
ety was embodied in the NRA and AAA, modeled on the fascist 
corporate state, and described by Flynn as “two of the mightiest 
engines of minute and comprehensive regimentation ever invented 
in any organized society.” These engines were hailed by those sup- 
posedly against regimentation: “Labor unions and Chamber of 
Commerce officials, stockbrokers and bankers, merchants and 

'"John T. Flynn, As We Go Marching (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 
Doran and Co., 1944), pp. 193-94. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

their customers joined in great parades in all the cities of the coun- 
try in rhapsodical approval of the program .” 13 After the failure of 
the NRA, the advent of World War II re-established this collec- 
tivist program, “an economy supported by great streams of debt 
and an economy under complete control, with nearly all of the 
planning agencies functioning with almost totalitarian power 
under a vast bureaucracy .” 14 After the war, Flynn prophesied, the 
New Deal would attempt to expand this system to international 

Foreseeing that the federal government would maintain vast 
spending and controls after the war was over, Flynn predicted that 
the great emphasis of this spending would be military, since this is 
the one form of government spending to which conservatives will 
never object, and which workers will welcome for its creation of 
jobs. “Thus militarism is the one great glamorous public-works 
project upon which a variety of elements in the community can be 
brought into agreement .” 15 Hence, as part of this perpetual garri- 
son state, conscription would also be continued on a permanent 
basis. Flynn declared: 

All sorts of people are for it. Numerous senators and repre- 
sentatives — of the Right and Left — have expressed their pur- 
pose to establish universal military training when the war 

The great and glamorous industry is here — the industry 
of militarism. And when the war is ended the country is going 
to be asked if it seriously wishes to demobilize an industry 
that can employ so many men, create so much national 
income when the nation is faced with the probability of vast 
unemployment in industry. All the well-known arguments, 
used so long and so successfully in Europe . . . will be dusted 
off — America with her high purposes of world regeneration 
must have the power to back up her magnificent ideals; 
America cannot afford to grow soft, and the Army and Navy 
must be continued on a vast scale to toughen the moral and 

13 Ibid., p. 198. 
14 Ibid., p. 201. 
15 Ibid., p. 207. 

Isolationism and the Foreign New Deal 


physical sinews of our youth; America dare not live in a world 
of gangsters and aggressors without keeping her full power 
mustered . . . and above and below and all around these sen- 
timents will be the sinister allurement of the perpetuation of 
the great industry which can never know a depression 
because it will have but one customer — the American gov- 
ernment to whose pocket there is no bottom. 16 

Flynn unerringly predicted that imperialism would follow in 
militarism’s wake: 

Embarked . . . upon a career of militarism, we shall, like every 
other country, have to find the means when the war ends of 
obtaining the consent of the people to the burdens that go 
along with the blessings it confers upon its favored groups 
and regions. Powerful resistance to it will always be active, 
and the effective means of combating this resistance will have 
to be found. Inevitably, having surrendered to militarism as 
an economic device, we will do what other countries have 
done: we will keep alive the fears of our people of the aggres- 
sive ambitions of other countries and we will ourselves 


embark upon imperialistic enterprises of our own. 

Flynn noted that interventionism and imperialism had come to be 
called “internationalism,” so that anyone who opposes imperialism 
“is scornfully called an isolationist.” Flynn went on: 

Imperialism is an institution under which one nation asserts 
the right to seize the land or at least to control the govern- 
ment or resources of another people. It is an assertion of 
stark, bold aggression. It is, of course, international in the 
sense that the aggressor nation crosses its own borders and 
enters the boundaries of another nation. ... It is international 
in the sense that war is international. . . . This is internation- 
alism in a sense, in that all the activities of an aggressor are on 

the international stage. But it is a malignant international- 
• 18 

16 Ibid., p. 212. 
17 Ibid., pp. 212-13. 
18 Ibid., p. 213. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Flynn then pointed out that countries such as Great Britain, 
having engaged in “extensive imperialist aggression” in the past, 
now try to use the hopes for world peace in order to preserve the 
status quo. 

This status quo is the result of aggression, is a continuing 
assertion of aggression, an assertion of malignant interna- 
tionalism. Now they appeal to this other benevolent type of 
internationalism to establish a world order in which they, all 
leagued together, will preserve a world which they have 
divided among themselves. . . . Benevolent internationalism is 
taken over by the aggressors as the mask behind which the 
malignant internationalism will be perpetuated and pro- 
tected. ... I do not see how any thoughtful person watching 
the movement of affairs in America can doubt that we are 
moving in the direction of both imperialism and internation- 
alism. 19 

Imperialism, according to Flynn, will ensure the existence of 
perpetual “enemies”: 

We have managed to acquire bases all over the world. . . . 

There is no part of the world where trouble can break out 
where we do not have bases of some sort in which, if we wish 
to use the pretension, we cannot claim that our interests are 
menaced. Thus menaced there must remain when the war is 
over a continuing argument in the hands of the imperialists 
for a vast naval establishment and a huge army ready to attack 
anywhere or to resist an attack from all the enemies we shall 
be obliged to have. Because always the most powerful argu- 
ment for a huge army maintained for economic reasons is 
that we have enemies. We must have enemies. 20 

A planned economy; militarism; imperialism — for Flynn what all 
this added up to was something very close to fascism. He warned: 

19 Ibid., p. 214. 
i0 Ibid., pp. 225-26. 

Isolationism and the Foreign New Deal 


The test of fascism is not one’s rage against the Italian and 
German war lords. The test is — how many of the essential 
principles of fascism do you accept. . . . When you can put 
your finger on the men or the groups that urge for America 
the debt-supported state, the autarchial corporative state, the 
state bent on the socialization of investment and the bureau- 
cratic government of industry and society, the establishment 
of the institution of militarism as the great glamorous public- 
works project of the nation and the institution of imperialism 
under which it proposes to regulate and rule the world and, 
along with this, proposes to alter the forms of government to 
approach as closely as possible the unrestrained, absolute 
government — then you will know you have located the 
authentic fascist. 

Fascism will come at the hands of perfectly authentic 
Americans . . . who are convinced that the present economic 
system is washed up . . . and who wish to commit this coun- 
try to the rule of the bureaucratic state; interfering in the 
affairs of the states and cities; taking part in the management 
of industry and finance and agriculture; assuming the role of 
great national banker and investor, borrowing billions every 
year and spending them on all sorts of projects through 
which such a government can paralyze opposition and com- 
mand public support; marshaling great armies and navies at 
crushing costs to support the industry of war and preparation 
for war which will become our greatest industry; and adding 
to all this the most romantic adventures in global planning, 
regeneration, and domination all to be done under the 
authority of a powerfully centralized government in which 
the executive will hold in effect all the powers with Congress 
reduced to the role of a debating society. There is your fas- 
cist. And the sooner America realizes this dreadful fact the 
sooner it will arm itself to make an end of American fascism 
masquerading under the guise of the champion of democ- 

" 1 Ibid., pp. 252-53. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Finally, Flynn warned that while the Communist Party was an 
enthusiastic supporter of his new dispensation, it would be a mis- 
take to call the new order “communism”; it will rather be “a very 
genteel and dainty and pleasant form of fascism which can not be 
called fascism at all because it will be so virtuous and polite.” In his 
concluding sentence, Flynn eloquently proclaimed that 

my only purpose is to sound a warning against the dark road 
upon which we have set our feet as we go marching to the sal- 
vation of the world and along which every step we now take 
leads us farther and farther from the things we want and the 
things that we cherish. ‘ 2 

22 Ibid., pp. 255, 258. 


World War II: 
The Nadir 

T he advent of World War II brought the Old Right to its 
darkest days. Harassed, reviled, persecuted, the intellectu- 
als and agitators of the Old Right, the libertarians and the 
isolationists, folded their tents and disappeared from view. While 
it is true that the isolationist Republicans experienced a resurgence 
in the 1942 elections, they were no longer supported by an ideo- 
logical vanguard. The America First Committee quickly dissolved 
after Pearl Harbor and went to war — despite the pleas of the bulk 
of its militants to continue being a focus of opposition to the 
nation’s course. Charles Lindbergh totally abandoned the ideolog- 
ical and political arena and joined the war effort. 

Among the intellectuals, there was, amidst the monolith of 
wartime propaganda, no room or hearing for libertarian or antiwar 
views. The veteran leaders of libertarianism were deprived of a 
voice. H.L. Mencken had retired from politics to write his charm- 
ing and nostalgic autobiography. Albert Jay Nock found all the 
journals and magazines closed to his pen. Nock’s leading disciple, 
Frank Chodorov, had been ousted from his post as head of the 
Henry George School of New York for his opposition to the war. 
Oswald Garrison Villard was virtually shut out of the magazines 
and was forced to confine himself to letters to his friends; in one of 
them he prophesied bitterly that “when you and I have passed off 
the scene the country will be called upon by some cheap poor 
white like Harry Truman to save the world from bolshevism and 



The Betrayal of the American Right 

preserve the Christian religion.” For the Old Right these were 
gloomy times indeed, and Villard was ready to select his epitaph: 

Fie grew old in an age he condemned 
Felt the dissolving throes 
Of a Social order he loved 
And like the Theban seer 
Died in his enemies’ day. 1 

For the Old Left, in contrast, World War II was a glorious age, 
the fulfillment and the promise of a New Dawn. Everywhere, in 
the United States and in western Europe, the liberal ideals of cen- 
tral planning, of a new planned order staffed by Brain Trusters and 
liberal intellectuals, seemed to be the wave of the future as well as 
the present. In the colleges and among the opinion molders, any 
conservative views seemed as dead and outmoded as the dodo, con- 
fined to the dustbin of history. And no one was more pleased at this 
burgeoning New Deal collectivism than the Communist Party. Its 
new Popular Front line of the late 1930s, a line that had replaced 
its old harsh revolutionary views, seemed more than vindicated by 
the glorious New Order a-borning. In foreign affairs, the United 
States was marching hand in hand with the Soviet Union in a glo- 
rious war to defeat fascism and expand democracy. Domestically, 
the Communists, under Earl Browder as their leader, exulted in 
their newfound respectability; the Browderite line of arriving at 
socialism through ever greater and more centralizing New Deal 
reforms seemed to be working in glorious fashion. The Commu- 
nists trumpeted that “Communism was Twentieth-century Ameri- 
canism,” and they were in the forefront of the new patriotism — 
and of a super-identification with the American Leviathan, foreign 
and domestic. Communists played an exhilarating, if subordinate, 
role in the war effort, in planning war production, in giving orien- 
tation lectures in the armed forces, and in calling for persecution 

'Michael Wreszin, Oswald Garrison Villard (Bloomington: Indiana 
University Press, 1965), p. 271. 

World War II: The Nadir 


of all possible opponents of the war. Earl Browder even seemed to 
find a willing ear at the White House. In their role as leaders in the 
CIO the Communists sternly put down any attempt at strikes or 
civil rights agitation that might deflect any energy from the glori- 
ous war. Indeed, so heady were the Communists’ dreams that they 
took the lead in advocating a permanent no-strike pledge even 
after the war. As Earl Browder put it: 

[W]e frankly declare that we are ready to cooperate in mak- 
ing capitalism work effectively in the postwar period. . . . We 
Communists are opposed to permitting an explosion of class 
conflict in our country when the war ends ... we are now 
extending the perspective of national unity for many years 
into the future." 

An eloquent cry against this wartime atmosphere arose, in a 
brilliant anti-New Deal novel published after the war by John Dos 
Passos, a lifelong radical and individualist who had been pushed 
from “extreme Left” to “extreme Right” by the march of war and 
corporate statism in America. Dos Passos wrote: 

At home we organized bloodbanks and civilian defense and 
imitated the rest of the world by setting up concentration 
camps (only we called them relocation centers) and stuffing 
into them American citizens of Japanese ancestry (Pearl Har- 
bor the date that will live in infamy) without benefit of habeas 
corpus. . . . 

The President of the United States talked the sincere 
democrat and so did the members of Congress. In the 
Administration there were devout believers in civil liberty. 

“Now we’re busy fighting a war; we’ll deploy all four free- 
doms later on,” they said. . . . 

War is a time of Caesars. 

The President of the United States was a man of great 
personal courage and supreme confidence in his powers of 
persuasion. He never spared himself a moment, flew to Brazil 

2 Art Preis, Labor's Giant Step (New York: Pioneer Publishers, 1964), p. 

221 . 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

and Casablanca, Cairo to negotiate at the level of the leaders; 
at Teheran the triumvirate without asking anybody’s leave got 
to meddling with history; without consulting their con- 
stituents, revamped geography, divided up the bloody globe 
and left the freedoms out. 

And the American People were supposed to say thank 
you for the century of the Common Man turned over for 
relocation behind barbed wire so help him God. 

We learned. There were things we learned to do but we 
have not learned, in spite of the Constitution and the Decla- 
ration of Independence and the great debates at Richmond 
and Philadelphia, how to put power over the lives of men into 
the hands of one man and to make him use it wisely . 3 

It was in this stifling political and ideological atmosphere that I 
grew to political consciousness. Economically, I had been a conser- 
vative since the eighth grade, and exclusive contact with liberals and 
leftists in high school and college only served to sharpen and inten- 
sify this commitment. During World War II, I was an undergradu- 
ate at Columbia University, and it seemed to my developing con- 
servative and libertarian spirit that there was no hope and no ideo- 
logical allies anywhere in the country. At Columbia, in New York 
generally, and in the intellectual press there was only the Center- 
Left monolith trumpeting the New Order. Opinion on campus 
ranged from Social Democratic liberals to Communists and their 
allies, and there seemed to be little to choose between them. Apart 
from the fraternity boys and the jocks who may have been instinc- 
tively conservative but had no interest in politics or ideology, I 
seemed to be totally alone. It was rumored that there was, indeed, 
one other “Republican” on campus; but he was an English major 
interested solely in literary matters, and so we never came into con- 
tact. All around me, the Lib-Left was echoing the same horror: 
“We are the government, so why are you so negative about govern- 
ment action?” “We must learn from Hitler, learn about planning 

3 Iohn Dos Passos, The Grand Design (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 
1949), pp. 416-18. 

World War II: The Nadir 


the economy.” And my uncle, a long-time member of the Commu- 
nist Party, condescendingly told my conservative father that he 
would be safe in the postwar world, “provided that he kept quiet 
about politics.” The New Order indeed seemed close at hand. 

But just when the days were darkest, and just when despair 
seemed the order of the day for opponents of statism and despot- 
ism, individuals and little groups were stirring, unbeknownst to me 
or anyone else, deep in the catacombs, thinking and writing to 
keep alive the feeble flame of liberty. The veteran libertarians 
found themselves forced to find an obscure home among conser- 
vative publicists of the “extreme Right.” The aging Albert Jay 
Nock, now in his 70s, found a home at the National Economic 
Council of the veteran right-wing isolationist Merwin K. Hart; in 
the spring of 1943, several wealthy friends induced Hart to set up 
a monthly Economic Council Review of Books, which Nock wrote and 
edited for the duration of the war. Frank Chodorov, ousted from 
the Henry George School, eked out a precarious living by found- 
ing a superbly written, one-man monthly broadsheet analysis in 
1944, published from a dingy loft in lower Manhattan. There, 
Chodorov began to apply and expand the Nockian analysis of the 
State, and worked on a theoretical economic complement to 
Nock’s historical Our Enemy , the State, a work which Chodorov 
issued in bound mimeographed form shortly after the end of the 
war. 4 John T. Flynn found a home with the long-standing right- 
wing outfit, the Committee for Constitutional Government, and 
its offshoot, America’s Future, Inc. The veteran publicist Garet 
Garrett, ousted in the shakeup at the Saturday Evening Post, was 
able to found an obscure one-man quarterly, American Affairs, 
issued as a minor part of the operations of the statistical organiza- 
tion of American business, the National Industrial Conference 
Board. In the Fos Angeles area, Feonard E. Read, general manager 
of the Fos Angeles Chamber of Commerce, was converted to the 
laissez-faire libertarian creed by William C. Mullendore, head of 

4 Frank Chodorov, The Economics of Society, Government , and State 
(New York: Analysis Associates, 1946). 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

the Commonwealth Edison Company, while Raymond Cyrus 
Hoiles, anarcho-capitalist publisher of the daily Santa Ana Register 
(and later to be publisher of a string of “Freedom Newspapers”), 
reprinted the works of the nineteenth-century libertarian French 
economist Frederic Bastiat. And, on the Feft, former Trotskyist 
turned anarcho-pacifist Dwight Macdonald founded his virtually 
one-man monthly Politics, which tirelessly lambasted the war and 
its attendant statism. 

What was destined to be the longest-lasting “right-wing” jour- 
nalistic venture launched during the war was the Washington weekly 
Human Events, founded in 1944 as a four-page newsletter with a 
periodically appended four-page article of analysis. Human Events 
was founded by three veteran isolationists and conservative libertar- 
ians: Frank Hanighen, coauthor of the most famous antimilitarist 
muckraking book of the 1930s, The Merchants of Death-, Felix Mor- 
ley, distinguished writer and former president of the Quaker Haver- 
ford College; and Chicago businessman Henry Regnery. 

But undoubtedly most important for the postwar resurgence of 
libertarianism were several books published during the war, books 
that were largely ignored and forgotten at the time, but which 
helped build a groundwork for a postwar renaissance. Three of the 
books, all published in 1943, were written by singularly independ- 
ent, tough-minded, and individualistic women. Screenwriter Ayn 
Rand produced the novel The Fountainhead, a paean to individual- 
ism that had been turned down by a host of publishers and finally 
published by Bobbs-Merrill. Fargely ignored at the time, The Foun- 
tainhead became a steady, “underground” bestseller over the years, 
spreading largely by word of mouth among its readers. (The novel 
had been turned down by publishers on the grounds that its theme 
was too “controversial,” its content too intellectual, and its tough- 
minded hero too unsympathetic to have commercial possibilities. 3 ) 

5 See the worshipful biographical sketch by Barbara Branden in 
Nathaniel Branden, Who Is Ayn Rand? (New York: Paperback Library, 
1964), pp. 158ff. 

World War II: The Nadir 


From semi-isolation in her home in Danbury, Connecticut, 
Rose Wilder Lane, who had been a Communist Party member in 
the 1920s, published The Discovery of Freedom , 6 an eloquent, 
singing prose-poem in celebration of the history of freedom and 
free-market capitalism. 

The third important wartime libertarian book by a woman was 
written by Isabel Paterson, who had made her mark as an author 
of several flapper- type novels in the 1920s and who had been a 
long-time regular columnist for the New York Herald-Tribune 
Review of Books. Her nonfiction The God of the Machine was an 
eccentric but important event in libertarian thought. The book 
was a series of essays, some turgid and marked by the intrusive use 
of electrical engineering analogies in social affairs; but these essays 
were marked by flashes of brilliant insight and analysis. Particu- 
larly important were her chapters on the State promotion of 
monopoly after the Civil War, her demonstration of the impossi- 
bility of “public” ownership, and her defense of the gold standard. 
The two chapters with the greatest impact among libertarians were 
“The Humanitarian with the Guillotine,” a brilliant critique of do- 
gooding and its consequence, the welfarist ethic; and “Our 
Japanized Educational System,” in which Mrs. Paterson delivered 
a blistering philosophical critique of progressive education, a cri- 
tique that was to help ignite the reaction against progressivism in 
the post-war era. Thus, Mrs. Paterson eloquently explained the 
interconnection of welfarism, parasitism, and coercion as follows: 

What can one human being actually do for another? He can 
give from his own funds and his own time whatever he can 
spare. But he cannot bestow faculties which nature has denied 
nor give away his own subsistence without becoming depend- 
ent himself. If he earns what he gives away, he must earn it first. 

. . . But supposing he has no means of his own, and still imag- 
ines that he can make “helping others” at once his primary pur- 
pose and the normal way of life, which is the central doctrine 
of the humanitarian creed, how is he to go about it? . . . 

6 (New York: John Day, 1943). 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

If the primary objective of the philanthropist, his justifi- 
cation for living, is to help others, his ultimate good requires 
that others shall he in want. His happiness is the obverse of 
their misery. If he wishes to help “Humanity,” the whole of 
humanity must be in need. The humanitarian wishes to be a 
prime mover in the lives of others. He cannot admit either 
the divine or the natural order, by which men have the power 
to help themselves. The humanitarian puts himself in the 
place of God. 

But he is confronted by two awkward facts; first, that the 
competent do not need his assistance; and second, that the 
majority of people . . . positively do not want to be “done 
good” by the humanitarian. . . . Of course what the humani- 
tarian actually proposes is that he shall do what he thinks is 
good for everybody. It is at this point that the humanitarian 
sets up the guillotine. 

What kind of world does the humanitarian contemplate 
as affording him full scope? It could only be a world filled 
with breadlines and hospitals, in which nobody retained the 
natural power of a human being to help himself or to resist 
having things done to him. And that is precisely the world 
that the humanitarian arranges when he gets his way. . . . 

There is only one way, and that is by the use of the political 
power in its fullest extension. Hence the humanitarian feels 
the utmost gratification when he visits or hears of a country 
in which everyone is restricted to ration cards. Where subsis- 
tence is doled out, the desideratum has been achieved, of 
general want and a superior power to “relieve” it. The 
humanitarian in theory is the terrorist in action. 7 

Equally important, and equally obscure at the time, was the publi- 
cation of Albert Nock’s last great work, his intellectual autobiogra- 
phy, Memoirs of a Superfluous Man . 8 In the Memoirs Nock expanded 
and wove together the themes of his previous books on history, 
theory, culture, and the State, and throughout all was an intensi- 
fied pessimism about the prospects for a widespread adoption of 


Isabel Paterson, The God of the Machine (New York: G.P. Putnam’s 
Sons, 1943), pp. 240-42. 

8 (New York: Harper and Bros., 1943). 

World War II: The Nadir 


libertarianism that was all too understandable for the times in 
which he wrote. Gresham’s Law — the bad driving out the good — 
worked inevitably, he felt, in the field of culture and ideas as it did 
in the field of coinage and money. As we marched into the new 
barbarism, nature would have to take its course. ' 

Meanwhile, in the field of economics, it seemed that the Key- 
nesians and the economic planners were sweeping all before them. 
The most distinguished of laissez-faire economists, Ludwig von 
Mises, who had been in the front rank of the economic world on 
the Continent during the teens and twenties, had been largely for- 
gotten in the wake of the “Keynesian Revolution” of the late 
1930s. And this neglect came even though Mises had won fame 
among English-speaking economists during the early 1930s, pre- 
cisely on the basis of his business-cycle theory that attributed the 
Great Depression to government intervention. A refugee from the 
Nazis, Mises had published a giant laissez-faire treatise on eco- 
nomics in Geneva in 1940, a book which got lost amidst the twin 
storms of the march toward collectivism in economic thought and 
the holocaust of World War II. Emigrating to New York in 1940, 
Mises, devoid of an academic post, managed to write and publish 
two books during the war. Both were highly important works 
which, again, made little or no dent in the academic world. Mises’s 
brief Bureaucracy 10 is still one of the best treatments of the nature 
of bureaucracy, and of the inherent sharp divergence between 
profit-seeking management and nonprofit, or bureaucratic, man- 
agement. Mises’s Omnipotent Government 11 won some academic 
recognition as the most important statement of the anti-Marxian 
position that the essence of Nazi Germany was not the reflection 
of big business but was a variant of socialism and collectivism. (At 

; For the reception of the Memoirs , see Robert M. Crunden, The Mind 
and An of Albert Jay Nock (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1964), pp. 189-91; 
for Nock’s appreciative views of the books of Lane and Paterson, see 
Selected Letters of Alb ert Jay Nock, F.J. Nock, ed. (Caldwell, Id.: Caxton 
Printers, 1962), pp. 145-51. 

10 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1944). 
n (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1944). 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Columbia, in those days, Omnipotent Government was being read as 
the antipode to Franz Neumann’s very popular Marxian work on 
Nazism, Behemoth) 

But the wartime libertarian work that was destined to have by 
far the greatest immediate impact was not that of Mises, but of his 
most prominent Austrian free-market follower, Friedrich A. 
Hayek. Flayek had emigrated to England in the early 1930s, to 
teach at the London School of Economics, and there had consid- 
erable impact on younger economists as well as achieving promi- 
nence in English intellectual circles, and among such distinguished 
emigre philosophers in England as Karl Popper and Michael 
Polanyi. It was perhaps this prominence in England that helps to 
account for the smashing popular and academic success of Hayek’s 
The Road to Serfdom} 2 For it was certainly not Hayek’s style, heav- 
ily Germanic rather than sparkling, and far less readable than 
Mises, who had pursued a similar theme. Perhaps intellectuals, 
surfeited with years of pro-statist and pro-planning propaganda, 
were ripe for a statement of the other side of the coin. 

Whatever the reason, The Road to Serfdom hit the intellectual 
circles of the United States and Britain like a blockbuster. Its major 
thesis was that socialism and central planning were incompatible 
with freedom, the rule of law, or democracy. The Nazi and Fascist 
regimes were considered one aspect of this modern collectivism, 
and Hayek tellingly outlined the great similarities between the sta- 
tist planning of the Weimar Republic and the later economic pro- 
gram of Hitler. The highly touted social democracy of the Weimar 
Republic was but fascism in embryo. 13 

12 (University of Chicago Press, 1944). 

1 'It is intriguing that Hayek’s analysis of social democracy as totalitar- 
ianism and fascism in embryo was very similar, though of course with very 
different rhetoric, to the critique of the English Marxist R. Palme Dutt in 
the radical days before the advent of the Popular Front line, of course. Cf. 
R. Palme Dutt, Fascism and Social Revolution (New York: International 
Publishers, 1934). 

World War II: The Nadir 


The Road to Serfdom made its impact on all levels of opinion. 
The Hearst papers serialized the book, hailing its attack on social- 
ism. It became mandatory in virtually every college course, as the 
case for the “other side” (although, in fact, it was scarcely consis- 
tent in its laissez-faire views). English intellectuals were so per- 
turbed that two attempted refutations of Hayek by social democ- 
rats were rushed into print: Hermann Finer’s vituperative Road to 
Reaction and Barbara Wootton’s Plan or No Plan (to which Mises 
would retort that free-market economists favored each man’s plan- 
ning for himself). And Hayek’s work had incalculable effect in con- 
verting or helping to convert many socialist intellectuals to the 
individualist, capitalist ranks. John Chamberlain, one of the lead- 
ing Left writers and critics of the 1930s and author of the noted 
Farewell to Reform, found his conversion to conservative-individu- 
alism greatly accelerated by the book, and Chamberlain con- 
tributed the preface to The Road to Serfdom. F.A. Harper, a free- 
market professor of agricultural economics at Cornell, found his 
dedication to libertarian views redoubled. And Frank S. Meyer, 
one of the leading theoreticians of the Communist Party, member 
of its national committee and head of its Workers’ School in 
Chicago, found disturbingly convincing Hayek’s portrayal of the 
incompatibility of socialism and freedom. It is an ironic and fasci- 
nating footnote to the ideological history of our time that The Road 
to Serfdom had one of its most sympathetic reviews in the Commu- 
nist New Masses — a review that constituted one of Frank Meyer’s 
last contributions to the Communist movement. And surely these 
were but a few instances of the vital impact of Hayek’s work. 

But this impact, and indeed the quieter ripples made by the 
other libertarian works during the war, was visible only as a success 
of the day. There did not seem to be any lasting result, any sort of 
movement to emerge out of the black days on which the libertar- 
ian creed had fallen. On the surface, as the war came to an end, 
there seemed to be as little hope as ever for the individualist, free- 
market cause as there had been during the war. 


The Postwar Renaissance I: 

F or a while the postwar ideological climate seemed to be the 
same as during the war: internationalism, statism, adulation 
of economic planning and the centralized state, were ram- 
pant everywhere. During the first postwar year, 1945-46, 1 entered 
Columbia Graduate School, where the intellectual atmosphere was 
oppressively just more of the same. By early 1946 the veterans had 
come back from the war, and the atmosphere on campus was rife 
with the heady plans and illusions of various wings of the Old Left. 
Most of the veterans had joined the newly formed American Vet- 
erans Committee (AVC), a group confined to World War II vets 
with the high hope of replacing the old and reactionary American 
Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. During these years, the 
AVC on campus was split between the Social Democrats on the 
right and the Communists and their allies on the left, and these 
factions set the parameters of political debate on campus. 

It was in this stifling atmosphere that I first became aware that 
I was not totally alone; that there was such a thing as a libertarian 
“movement,” however small and embryonic. A young economics 
professor from Brown University began to teach at Columbia in 
the fall of 1946: George J. Stigler, later to become a distinguished 
member of the free-market “Chicago School” of economics. Tall, 
witty, self-assured, Stigler strode in to a huge class in price theory, 
and proceeded to confound the assorted leftists by devoting his 
first two lectures to an attack on rent control, and to a refutation 
of minimum wage laws. As Stigler left the classroom, he would be 



The Betrayal of the American Right 

surrounded by moving circles of amazed and bewildered students, 
arguing with his point of view that seemed to them to be deposited 
all of a sudden from the Neanderthal Age. I was of course 
delighted; here at last was a free-market viewpoint of intellectual 
substance, and not simply couched in the lurid and confused tones 
of the Hearst Press! Professor Stigler referred us to a pamphlet 
(now long out of print, and still one of the few studies of rent con- 
trol) jointly written by himself and another young free-market 
economist, Milton Friedman, “Roofs or Ceilings?” and published 
by an outfit called the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), 
in Irvington-on-EIudson, New York. Stigler explained that he and 
Friedman had published the pamphlet with this obscure outfit 
because “nobody else would publish it.” Enchanted, I wrote away 
for the pamphlet, and for information about the organization; and 
by that act I had unwittingly “entered” the libertarian movement. 

FEE had been founded during 1946 by Leonard E. Read, who 
for many years was its president, ruler, line-setter, fundraiser, and 
guiding light. In those years and for many years thereafter, FEE 
served as the major focus and the open center for libertarian activ- 
ity in the United States. Not only has virtually every prominent 
libertarian in the country of middle age or over served at one time 
or another on its staff; but by its activities FEE served as the first 
beacon light for attracting innumerable young libertarians into the 
movement. Its earliest staff was focused around a group of free- 
market agricultural economists led by Dr. F.A. (“Baldy”) Harper, 
who had come down from Cornell, and who had already written an 
antistatist pamphlet, “The Crisis of the Free Market,” for the 
National Industrial Conference Board, for whom Leonard Read 
had worked after leaving the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. 
Among the young economists coming to FEE from Cornell with 
Harper were Doctors Paul Poirot, William Marshall Curtiss, Ivan 
Bierly, and Ellis Lamborn. Coming to FEE from Los Angeles 
along with Read was Dr. V. Orval Watts, who had been the econ- 
omist for the Los Angeles Chamber. 

One of the important but unsung figures in the early postwar 
libertarian movement was Loren (“Red”) Miller, who had been 
active in municipal reform movements in Detroit and elsewhere. 

The Postwar Renaissance I: Libertarianism 


In Kansas City, Miller joined with William Volker, head of the 
William Volker Company, a leading wholesale furniture specially 
distributing house for the Western states, in battling against the 
corrupt Pendergast machine. The charismatic Miller was appar- 
ently instrumental in converting many municipal reformers 
throughout the country to laissez-faire-, these included Volker and 
his nephew and heir Harold W. Luhnow. 1 

Luhnow, now head of the Volker Company and his uncle’s 
William Volker Charities Fund, had been an active isolationist 
before the war. Now he became an active supporter of FEE, and 
was particularly eager to advance the almost totally neglected 
cause of libertarian scholarship. Another Red Miller convert was 
the young administrative genius Herbert C. Cornuelle, who for a 
short while was executive vice president of FEE. After the death of 
Volker in 1947, Luhnow began to change the orientation of the 
Volker Fund from conventional Kansas City charities to promot- 
ing libertarian and laissez-faire scholarship. He began valiant 
efforts in the later 1940s to obtain prestigious academic posts for 
the leaders of the Austrian School of economics, Ludwig von 
Mises and F.A. Hayek. The best he could do for Mises, who had 
been languishing in New York, was to find him a post as “Visiting 
Professor” at New York University Graduate School of Business. 
Mises also became a part-time staff member at FEE. Luhnow was 
more successful with Hayek, arranging for a professorship at the 
newly established graduate Committee on Social Thought at the 
University of Chicago — after the economics department at 
Chicago had rejected a similar arrangement. In both cases, how- 
ever, the university refused to pay any salary to these eminent 
scholars. For the rest of their careers in American academia, the 
salaries of both Mises and Hayek were paid for by the William 
Volker Fund. (After the Fund collapsed in 1962, the task of financ- 
ing Mises’s post at NYU was taken up by Read and a consortium 
of businessmen.) 

William Volker, see Herbert C. Cornuelle, “Mr Anonymous The 
Story of William Volker (Caldwell, Id.: Caxton Printers, 1951). 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

After a couple of years of acting alone at the Volker Fund, 
Harold Luhnow decided to expand the activity of the Fund in 
stimulating conservative and libertarian scholarship, and Herb 
Cornuelle went from FEE to the Volker Fund as its first liaison 

After a brief flurry in political agitation against rent control, 
Read decided to keep FEE as a purely educational organization. 
For its first decade, FEE published pamphlets by staff members 
and others, many of which were collected in a book-form series, 
Essays on Liberty, but probably more important was its role as an 
open center for the movement, in its sponsoring of seminars, 
meetings, and soirees, and in its hospitality to visiting and budding 
libertarians. It was at and through FEE that I met or discovered all 
the previously “underground” channels of libertarian thought and 
expression: the books published during the war, the Nockians 
(Nock himself had died in the summer of 1945), and the continu- 
ing activities of John T. Flynn and Rose Wilder Lane (who had 
succeeded Nock as editor of the Economic Council Review of Books), 
and Human Events. 

It was in the midst of this new and exhilarating milieu that I 
emerged from my previous rather vague “Chamber of Commerce 
conservatism” and became a hard-nosed and “doctrinaire” laissez- 
faire libertarian, believing that no man and no government had the 
right to aggress against another man’s person or property. It was 
also in this period that I became an “isolationist.” During the years 
when I was becoming ever more “conservative” economically, I 
had done little or no independent thinking on foreign affairs; I was 
literally content to take my foreign policy thinking from the edi- 
torials of the good grey New York Times. It now became clear to 
me, however, that “isolationism” in foreign affairs was but the for- 
eign counterpart of strictly limited government within each 
nation’s borders. 

One of the most important influences upon me was Baldy 
Harper, whose quiet and gentle hospitality toward young new- 
comers attracted many of us to the pure libertarian creed that he 
espoused and exemplified — a creed all the more effective for his 
stressing the philosophical aspects of liberty even more than the 

The Postwar Renaissance I: Libertarianism 


narrowly economic. Another was Frank Chodorov, whom I met at 
FEE, and thereby discovered his superb broadsheet analysis. More 
than any single force, Frank Chodorov — that noble, courageous, 
candid, and spontaneous giant of a man who compromised not one 
iota in his eloquent denunciations of our enemy the State — was my 
entree to uncompromising libertarianism. 

The first time I came across Frank’s work was a true — and infi- 
nitely exhilarating — culture shock. I was at the Columbia Univer- 
sity bookstore one day in 1947, when, amidst a raft of the usual 
Stalinist, Trotskyist, etc. leaflets, one pamphlet was emblazoned in 
red letters with its title: “Taxation Is Robbery,” by Frank 
Chodorov. 2 This was it. Once seeing those shining and irrefutable 
words, my ideological outlook could never be the same again. 
What else, indeed, was taxation if not an act of theft? And it 
became clear to me that there was no way whatever of defining tax- 
ation that was not also applicable to the tribute exacted by a rob- 
ber gang. 

Chodorov began his pamphlet by stating that there were only 
two basic alternative moral positions on the State and taxation. 
The first holds that “political institutions stem from ‘the nature of 
man,’ thus enjoying vicarious divinity,” or that the State is “the 
keystone of social integrations.” Adherents of this position have no 
difficulty in favoring taxation. People in the second group “hold to 
the primacy of the individual, whose very existence is his claim to 
inalienable rights”; they believe that “in the compulsory collection 
of dues and charges the state is merely exercising power, without 
regard to morals.” Chodorov unhesitatingly placed himself in this 
second group: 

If we assume that the individual has an indisputable right to 
life, we must concede that he has a similar right to the enjoy- 
ment of the products of his labor. This we call a property 

2 Frank Chodorov, Taxation Is Robbery (Chicago: Human Events 
Associates, 1947), reprinted in Chodorov, Out of Step (New York: Devin- 
Adair, 1962). 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

right. The absolute right to property follows from the orig- 
inal right to life because one without the other is meaning- 
less; the means to life must be identified with life itself. If the 
state has a prior right to the products of one’s labor, his right 
to existence is qualified ... no such prior rights can be estab- 
lished, except by declaring the state the author of all rights. 

. . . We object to the taking of our property by organized 
society just as we do when a single unit of society commits 
the act. In the latter case we unhesitatingly call the act rob- 
bery, a malum in se. It is not the law which in the first instance 
defines robbery, it is an ethical principle, and this the law may 
violate but not supersede. If by the necessity of living we 
acquiesce to the force of law, if by long custom we lose sight 
of the immorality, has the principle been obliterated? Rob- 
bery is robbery, and no amount of words can make it any- 
thing else. 3 

The idea that taxes are simply a payment for social services ren- 
dered received only scorn from Chodorov: 

Taxation for social services hints at an equitable trade. It sug- 
gests a quid pro quo, a relationship of justice. But the essential 
condition of trade, that it be carried on willingly, is absent 
from taxation; its very use of compulsion removes taxation 
from the field of commerce and puts it squarely into the field 
of politics. Taxes cannot be compared to dues paid to a vol- 
untary organization for such services as one expects from 
membership, because the choice of withdrawal does not exist. 

In refusing to trade one may deny oneself a profit, but the 
only alternative to paying taxes is jail. The suggestion of 
equity in taxation is spurious. If we get anything for the taxes 
we pay it is not because we want it; it is forced on us. 4 

On the “ability to pay” principle of taxation, Chodorov acidly 

noted: “What is it but the highwayman’s rule of taking where the 

3 Chodorov, Out of Step, p. 217. 

4 Ibid., pp. 228-29. 

The Postwar Renaissance I: Libertarianism 


taking is best?” He concluded trenchantly: “There cannot be a 
good tax or a just one; every tax rests its case on compulsion .' 1 

Or take another headline that screamed at me from Chodorov’s 
analysis-. DON’T BUY BONDS! In an age in which government 
savings bonds were being universally sold as a badge of patriotism, 
this too came as a shock. In the article, Chodorov concentrated on 
the basic immorality, not simply the fiscal shakiness of the federal 
tax-and-bond paying process. 

It is typical of Frank Chodorov that his consistency, his very 
presence exposed the far more numerous “free-enterprise” groups 
for the time-servers or even charlatans that they tended to be. 
While other conservative groups called for a lessening of the tax 
burden, Chodorov called for its abolition; while others warned of 
the increasing burden of the public debt, Chodorov alone — and 
magnificently — called for its repudiation as the only moral course. 
For if the public debt is burdensome and immoral, then outright 
repudiation is the best and most moral way of getting rid of it. If 
the bondholders, as seemed clear, were living coercively off the 
taxpayer, then this legalized expropriation would have to be ended 
as quickly as possible. Repudiation, Chodorov wrote, “can have a 
salutary effect on the economy of the country, since the lessening 
of the tax burden leaves the citizenry more to do with. The market 
place becomes to that extent healthier and more vigorous.” Fur- 
thermore, “Repudiation commends itself also because it weakens 
faith in the State. Until the act is forgotten by subsequent genera- 
tions, the State’s promises find few believers; its credit is shat- 
tered .” 5 6 

As for the argument that buying bonds is the public’s patriotic 
expression of support for fighting a war, Chodorov retorted that 
the true patriot would give, not lend, money to the war effort. 

As a disciple of Albert Jay Nock and thus an uncompromising 
and consistent opponent of State power and privilege, Frank 

5 Ibid., pp. 237, 239. 

6 Ibid., p. 2. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Chodorov was keenly aware of the gulf between himself and the 
run-of-the-mill free-enterprise and antisocialist groups. He pin- 
pointed the difference brilliantly in his “Socialism by Default”: 

The cause of private property has been championed by men 
who had no interest in it; their main concern has always been 
with the institution of privilege which has grown up alongside 
private property. They start by defining private property as 
anything that can be got by law; hence, they put their cunning 
to the control of the lawmaking machinery, so that the emerg- 
ing laws enable them to profit at the expense of producers. 

They talk about the benefits of competition and work toward 
monopolistic practices. They extol individual initiative and 
support legal limitations on individuals who might challenge 
their ascendancy. In short, they are for the State, the enemy of 
private property, because they profit by its schemes. Their 
only objection to the State is its inclination to invade their 
privileged position or to extend privileges to other groups. 7 

Specifically, Chodorov pointed out that if the “free-enterprise” 
groups sincerely favored freedom, they would call for the abolition 
of: tariffs, import quotas, government manipulation of money, sub- 
sidies to railroads, airlines and shippers, and farm price supports. 
The only subsidies which these groups will attack, he added, are 
those “which cannot be capitalized” into the value of corporate 
stocks, such as handouts to veterans or the unemployed. Neither 
do they oppose taxation; for one thing, government bondholders 
cannot attack the income tax, and for another, the liquor interests 
oppose the abolition of taxes on stills because then “every farmer 
could open a distillery.” And, above all, 

militarism is undoubtedly the greatest waste of all, besides 
being the greatest threat to the freedom of the individual, and 
yet it is rather condoned than opposed by those whose hearts 
bleed for freedom, according to their literature. 8 


Frank Chodorov, One Is a Crowd (N ew York: Devin-Adair, 1952), pp. 

8 Ibid., p. 95. 

The Postwar Renaissance I: Libertarianism 


It was largely through Chodorov and analysis that I discovered 
Nock, Garrett, Mencken, and the other giants of libertarian 
thought. In fact, it was Chodorov who gave this young and eager 
author his first chance to break into print — apart from letters to 
the press — in a delighted review of H.L. Mencken’s Chrestomathy 
in the August 1 949 issue of analysis. It was also my first discovery 
of Mencken, and I was dazzled permanently by his brilliant style 
and wit; and I spent many months devouring as much of H.L.M. 
as I could get my hands on. And as a result of my article, I began 
to review books for Chodorov for some months to come. 

The winter of 1949-50, in fact, witnessed the two most exciting 
and shattering intellectual events of my life: my discovery of “Aus- 
trian” economics, and my conversion to individualist anarchism. I 
had gone through Columbia College and to Columbia’s graduate 
school in economics, passing my Ph.D. orals in the spring of 1948, 
and not once had I heard of Austrian economics, except as some- 
thing that had been integrated into the main body of economics by 
Alfred Marshall sixty years before. But I discovered at FEE that 
Ludwig von Mises, whom I had heard of only as contending that 
socialism could not calculate economically, was teaching a contin- 
uing open seminar at New York University. I began to sit in on the 
seminar weekly, and the group became a kind of informal meeting 
ground for free-market-oriented people in New York City. I had 
also heard that Mises had written a book covering “everything” in 
economics, and when his Human Action was published that fall it 
came as a genuine revelation. While I had always enjoyed eco- 
nomics, I had never been able to find a comfortable home in eco- 
nomic theory: I tended to agree with institutionalist critiques of 
Keynesians and mathematicians, but also with the latters’ critiques 
of the institutionalists. No positive system seemed to make sense 
or to hang together. But in Mises’s Human Action I found econom- 
ics as a superb architectonic, a mighty edifice with each building 
block related to and integrated with every other. Upon reading it, 
I became a dedicated “Austrian” and Misesian, and I read as much 
Austrian economics as I could find. 

While I was an economist and had now found a home in Aus- 
trian theory, my basic motivation for being a libertarian had never 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

been economic but moral. It is all too true that the disease of most 
economists is to think solely in terms of a phantom “efficiency,” 
and to believe that they can then make political pronouncements 
as pure value-free social technicians, divorced from ethics and the 
moral realm. While I was convinced that the free market was more 
efficient and would bring about a far more prosperous world than 
statism, my major concern was moral: the insight that coercion and 
aggression of one man over another was criminal and iniquitous, 
and must be combated and abolished. 

My conversion to anarchism was a simple exercise in logic. I 
had engaged continually in friendly arguments about laissez-faire 
with liberal friends from graduate school. While condemning tax- 
ation, I had still felt that taxation was required for the provision of 
police and judicial protection and for that only. One night two 
friends and I had one of our usual lengthy discussions, seemingly 
unprofitable; but this time when they’d left, I felt that for once 
something vital had actually been said. As I thought back on the 
discussion, I realized that my friends, as liberals, had posed the fol- 
lowing challenge to my laissez-faire position: 

They. What is the legitimate basis for your laissez-faire gov- 
ernment, for this political entity confined solely to defending 
person and property? 

/: Well, the people get together and decide to establish such a 

They. But if “the people” can do that, why can’t they do exactly 
the same thing and get together to choose a government that 
will build steel plants, dams, etc.? 

I realized in a flash that their logic was impeccable, that laissez- 
faire was logically untenable, and that either I had to become a lib- 
eral, or move onward into anarchism. I became an anarchist. Fur- 
thermore, I saw the total incompatibility of the insights of 
Oppenheimer and Nock on the nature of the State as conquest, 
with the vague “social contract” basis that I had been postulating 
for a laissez-faire government. I saw that the only genuine contract 

The Postwar Renaissance I: Libertarianism 


had to be an individual’s specifically disposing of or using his own 

Naturally, the anarchism I had adopted was individualist and 
free-market, a logical extension of laissez-faire, and not the woolly 
communalism that marked most of contemporary anarchist 
thought. On top of Mencken and Austrian economics, I now began 
to devour all the individualist anarchist literature I could dig up — 
fortunately as a New Yorker I was close to two of the best anarchist 
collections in the country, at Columbia and the New York Public 
Library. I raced through the sources not simply for scholarly inter- 
est but also to help me define my own ideological position. I was 
enchanted particularly with Benjamin R. Tucker’s Liberty, the great 
individualist anarchist magazine published for nearly three decades 
in the latter part of the nineteenth century. I was particularly 
delighted by Tucker’s incisive logic, his clear and lucid style, and 
his ruthless dissection of numerous “deviations” from his particu- 
lar line. And Lysander Spooner, the anarchist constitutional lawyer 
and associate of Tucker, enchanted me by his brilliant insight into 
the nature of the State, his devotion to morality and justice, and his 
couching of anarchistic invective in a delightful legal style. 

Spooner’s Letter to Grover Cleveland I discovered to be one of 
the greatest demolitions of statism ever written . 0 And for my own 
personal development, I found the following passage in Spooner’s 
No Treason decisive in confirming and permanently fixing my 
hatred of the State. I was convinced that no one could read these 
beautifully clear lines on the nature of the State and remain 

The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a 
man: “Your money, or your life.” And many if not most, taxes 
are paid under the compulsion of that threat. 

°Lysander Spooner, A Letter to Grover Cleveland, On His False 
Inaugural Address, the Usurpations and Crimes of Lawmakers and Judges, and 
the Consequent Poverty, Ignorance and Servitude of the People (Boston: 
Benjamin R. Tucker, 1886). 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a 
lonely place, spring upon him from the roadside and, holding 
a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the rob- 
bery is none the less a robbery on that account, and it is far 
more dastardly and shameful. 

The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsi- 
bility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend 
that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he 
intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend 
to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence 
enough to profess to be merely a “protector,” and that he 
takes men’s money against their will, merely to enable him to 
“protect” those infatuated travelers, who feel perfectly able to 
protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system 
of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such profes- 
sions as these. Furthermore, having taken your money, he 
leaves you as you wish him to do. He does not persist in fol- 
lowing you on the road, against your will; assuming to be 
your rightful “sovereign,” on account of the “protection” he 
affords you. He does not keep “protecting” you by com- 
manding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you 
to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of 
more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure 
to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an 
enemy to your country, and shooting you down without 
mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He 
is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, 
and villainies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to 
robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his 

Anarchism, in fact, was in the air in our little movement in 
those days. My friend and fellow Mises-student, Richard Cor- 
nuelle, younger brother of Herb, was my first, and willing, con- 
vert. Anarchist ferment was also brewing at no less a place than 
FEE. Ellis Lamborn, one of the staff members, was openly refer- 
ring to himself as an “anarchist,” and Dick smilingly reported from 

10 Lysander Spooner, No Treason (Larkspur, Colo.: Pine Tree Press, 
1966 ), p. 17 . 

The Postwar Renaissance I: Libertarianism 


his own stay at FEE that he was “having increasing difficulty in 
coping with the anarchist’s arguments.” Dick also delightedly 
reported that, amidst a lengthy discussion about what name to call 
this newly found pure-libertarian creed — “libertarian,” “volun- 
taryist,” “individualist,” “true liberal,” etc. — this pioneering staff 
member cut in, with his Midwestern twang: “Hell, ‘anarchist’ is 
good enough for me.” Another leading staff member, F.A. Elarper, 
on one of my visits to Irvington, softly pulled a copy of Tolstoy’s 
The Law of Love and the Law of Violence from under his desk, and 
thereby introduced me to the absolute pacifist variant of anar- 
chism. Indeed, it was rumored that almost the entire staff of FEE 
had become anarchists by this time, with the exception of Mr. Read 
himself — and that even he was teetering on the brink. The closest 
Read ever came publicly to the brink was in his pamphlet “Stu- 
dents of Liberty,” written in 1950. After expounding on the neces- 
sity of keeping the violence of government strictly limited to 
defense of person and property, Read confessed that even these 
proposed limits left him with two telling questions to which he had 
not been able to find satisfactory answers. First, “can violence be 
instituted, regardless of how official or how limited in intention, 
without begetting violence outside officialdom and beyond the 
prescribed limitation?” And second, 

Is not limitation of government, except for relatively short 
periods, impossible? Will not the predatory instincts of some 
men, which government is designed to suppress, eventually 
appear in the agents selected to do the suppressing? These 
instincts, perhaps, are inseparable companions of power. . . . 

If there be criminals among us, what is to keep them from 
gaining and using the power of government? 11 

It is scarcely a coincidence, in fact, that the Tolstoyan influence, 
the contrasting of the “law of love” with the “law of violence” that 

u Leonard E. Read, Students of Liberty (Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y.: 
Foundation for Economic Education, 1950), p. 14. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

constitutes government, appears as a leitmotif throughout the 
essay. 12 

The libertarian idyll at FEE came abruptly to an end in 1954, 
with the publication of Leonard Read’s booklet Government — An 
Ideal Concept. The book sent shockwaves reverberating through 
libertarian circles, for with this work Read moved decisively back 
into the pro-government camp. Read had abandoned the leader- 
ship of the anarcho-capitalist camp, which could have been his for 
the asking, in order to take up the cudgels for the Old Order. 

Before the publication of this book, not one of the numerous 
essays from FEE had ever said a single word in praise of govern- 
ment; all of their thrust had been in opposition to illegitimate gov- 
ernment action. While anarchism had never been explicitly advo- 
cated, all of FEE’s material had been consistent with an anarchist 
ideal, because FEE had never positively advocated government or 
declared that it was a noble ideal. But now that tradition had been 

Numerous letters and lengthy manuscripts poured into FEE in 
protest from anarchist friends across the country. But Read was 
unheeding; 1, among the anarchists, the cry went up that Leonard 

'-Read’s “On That Day Began Lies,” written around the same period, 
begins explicitly with a quotation from Tolstoy and is written as a 
Tolstoyan critique of organizations that repress or violate the consciences 
of individual members. See “On That Day Began Lies,” Essays on Liberty 
(Irvington-on-Eludson, N.Y.: Foundation for Economic Education, 
1952), vol. 1, pp. 231-52. 

13 One of the protesting manuscripts circulating among libertarians at 
the time was written by Mr. Mercer Parks. Parks wrote, 

To defend the use of coercion to collect any reluctant taxes by 
contending that government “is merely performing its proper 
role of defending its members” ... is evasively inconsistent 
with the published beliefs of FEE staff members. So, coercion 
is no longer coercion, says this essay. But coercion is always 
coercion if it uses force to make one do something unwillingly. 

No matter whether the tax is equitable or inequitable, if it is 
taken from an unwilling person through force or threats of 

The Postwar Renaissance I: Libertarianism 


had literally “sold out,” and gossip had it that a major factor in 
Leonard’s backsliding was an objective and thorough report on 
FEE by an organization that studied and summed up institutes and 
foundations for potential business contributors. The outfit had 
cogently called FEE a “Tory anarchist” or “right-wing anarchist” 
organization, and the rumor was that Leonard was reacting in fear 
of the effect of the “anarchist” label on the tender sensibilities of 
FEE’s wealthy contributors. 

FEE’s publication of Read’s book also had a long-lasting impact 
on the productivity and scholarship at FEE. For until this point, 
one of the working rules had been that nothing got published 
under FEE’s imprint except with the unanimous consent of the 
staff — thus insuring that the Tolstoyan concern for individual con- 
science would be preserved as opposed to its suppression and mis- 
representation by any social organization. But here, despite heavy 
and virtually unanimous staff opposition, Read had highhandedly 
broken this social compact and had gone ahead and published his 
praise of government under FEE’s imprimatur. It was this attitude 
that launched a slow, but long and steady decline of FEE as a cen- 
ter of libertarian productivity and research, as well as an exodus 
from FEE of all its best talents, led by F.A. Harper. Read had 
pledged to Harper at the start of FEE in 1 946 that the organiza- 
tion would become an institute or think-tank of advanced libertar- 
ian study. These hopes had now gone a-glimmering, though Read 
was later to deny his failure by serenely calling FEE a designed 
“high school of liberty.” 

The winter of 1949-50 was indeed a momentous one for me, 
and not only because I was converted to anarchism and Austrian 

force by government, no matter if it be only one cent, it is 
secured by the use of coercion. (Mercer H. Parks, “In Support 
of Limited Government” [unpublished ms., March 5, 1955]) 

A sad commentary on the size and influence of the anarcho-capitalists at 
the time is the fact that such critiques as Parks’s could not be published 
for lack of any sort of outlet, outside of FEE, for the publication of liber- 
tarian writings. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

economics. My adoption of Austrianism and my attendance at 
Mises’s seminar were to determine the course of my career for 
many years to come. Herb Cornuelle, now of the William Volker 
Fund, suggested in the fall of 1949 that I write a college textbook 
boiling down Mises’s Human Action into a form suitable for stu- 
dents. Since Mises didn’t know of me at the time, he suggested that 
I write a sample chapter; I did a chapter on money during the win- 
ter, and Mises’s approval led the Volker Fund to give me a multi- 
year grant for an Austrian textbook — a project which eventually 
snowballed into a large-scale treatise on Austrian economics, Man, 
Economy, and State, on which I began to work in early 1952. Thus 
began my association with the William Volker Fund, which con- 
tinued for a decade, and included consulting work for the fund as 
a reviewer and analyst of books, journals, and manuscripts. 

Indeed as FEE slipped from its high promise of productivity 
and scholarship, the Volker Fund began to take up the slack. Herb 
Cornuelle soon left the Fund to launch a brilliant career in top 
industrial management — a gain to industry but a great loss to the 
libertarian movement. His place at Volker (which by now had 
moved from Kansas City to Burlingame, California) was taken by 
his younger brother Dick, and soon other liaison officers were 
added, as the unique Volker Fund concept took shape. This con- 
cept involved not only the subsidizing of conservative and libertar- 
ian scholarship — conferences, fellowships, book distributions to 
libraries, and eventually direct book publishing — but also the 
granting of funds to individual scholars rather than the usual foun- 
dation technique of granting funds en masse to Establishment-type 
organizations and universities (such as the Social Science Research 
Council). Granting funds to individuals meant that the Volker 
Fund had to have a liaison staff far larger than funds many times 
its comparatively modest size (approximately $17 million). 

And so the Volker Fund eventually added Kenneth S. Temple- 
ton, Jr., a young historian teaching at Kent School, Connecticut; 
F.A. Harper, one of the exodus from FEE; Dr. Ivan R. Bierly, a 
doctoral student of Harper’s at Cornell and later at FEE; and H. 
George Resch, a recent graduate of Lawrence College and a spe- 
cialist in World War II revisionism. Working within a framework 

The Postwar Renaissance I: Libertarianism 


of old Mr. Volker’s injunction for anonymous philanthropy, the 
Volker Fund never courted or received much publicity, but its con- 
tributions were vital in promoting and bringing together a large 
body of libertarian, revisionist, and conservative scholarship. In the 
field of revisionism, the Fund played a role in financing Harry 
Elmer Barnes’s mammoth project for a series of books on the revi- 
sionism of World War II. 

By the early 1950s, all this libertarian activity forced main- 
stream opinion to sit up and take notice. In particular, in 1948 
Herb Cornuelle and the William Volker Fund had helped Spiritual 
Mobilization, a right-wing Los Angeles-based organization headed 
by the Reverend James W. Fifield, to establish a monthly maga- 
zine, Faith and Freedom. Cornuelle installed William Johnson, a 
libertarian who had been his assistant in the Navy, as editor of the 
new magazine. Chodorov, who merged his analysis into Human 
Events in March 1951 and moved to Washington to become an 
associate editor of the latter publication, began to write a regular 
column for Faith and Freedom , “Along Pennsylvania Avenue.” 

In 1953, the first mainstream recognition of the new libertarian 
movement appeared, in the form of a vituperative “brown-baiting” 
book by a young Methodist minister denouncing “extremists” in 
the Protestant churches. The book, Ralph Lord Roy’s Apostles of 
Discord: A Study of Organized Bigotiy and Disruption on the Fringes of 
Protestantism, 14 had been a thesis written under the high priest of 
Left-liberalism at Union Theological Seminary in New York, Dr. 
John C. Bennett. This work was part of a popular genre of the time 
that might be termed “extremist-baiting,” in which the self-evi- 
dently proper and correct “vital center” is defended against 
extremists of all sorts, but most particularly right-wingers. Thus, 
Roy, devoting one perfunctory chapter to attacking pro-Commu- 
nist Protestants, spent the rest of the book on various kinds of 
right-wingers, whom he divided into two baleful groups: Apostles 
of Hate, and Apostles of Discord. In the slightly less menacing 

14 (Boston: Beacon Press, 1953). 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Ministry of Discord (along with pro-Communists and various 
rightists) was, in chapter 12, “God and the ‘Libertarians,’” placed 
for some reason in quotation marks. But, quotation marks or not, 
under attack or not, we had at least gained general attention, and I 
suppose we should have been grateful to be placed in the Discord 
rather than the Hate category. 

Roy denounced the intellectual “facade” of Spiritual Mobiliza- 
tion and its Faith and Freedom, as well as FEE, Nock, and 
Chodorov. His treatment was fairly accurate, although the Volker 
Fund managed to elude his notice; however, his inclusion of FEE 
under Protestantism was highly strained, based only on the fact 
that Leonard Read was a member of Spiritual Mobilization’s advi- 
sory committee. Also attacked in the Roy chapter was Christian 
Economics ( CE ), a bimonthly free-market tabloid edited by the vet- 
eran Howard E. Kershner, who had set up the Christian Freedom 
Foundation and begun publishing the CE in 1950. Kershner had 
been a deputy to Herbert Hoover’s food relief program after 
World War I, and a long-time friend of his fellow Quaker. Work- 
ing as columnist in CE’s New York office was long-time economic 
journalist Percy L. Greaves, Jr., who was becoming a faithful fol- 
lower of Ludwig von Mises in Mises’s seminar. Before coming to 
New York to join CE in 1950, Percy had been a leading staffer of 
the Republican National Committee in Washington, and was the 
minority counsel to Senator Brewster of Maine, and the Pearl 
Harbor Congressional investigating committee. This experience 
made Percy one of the outstanding Pearl Harbor revisionists in the 
country. Percy was a rare example of someone with both political 
experience and interest in economic scholarship. While still in 
Washington in 1950, he thought seriously of running for U.S. 
Senate from Maryland in the Republican primary. Since that 
turned out to be the year in which the seemingly impregnable Sen- 
ator Millard E. Tydings lost to the unknown John Marshall Butler 
because of Joe McCarthy’s battle against him, Percy could well 
have become Senator that year instead of Butler. As a result, and 
because of his general demeanor, our group in the Mises seminar 
affectionately referred to Percy as “the Senator.” 

The Postwar Renaissance I: Libertarianism 


One gratifying aspect of our rise to some prominence is that, 
for the first time in my memory, we, “our side,” had captured a 
crucial word from the enemy. Other words, such as “liberal,” had 
been originally identified with laissez-faire libertarians, but had 
been captured by left-wing statists, forcing us in the 1940s to call 
ourselves rather feebly “true” or “classical” liberals. 1 ' “Libertari- 
ans,” in contrast, had long been simply a polite word for left-wing 
anarchists, that is for anti-private property anarchists, either of the 
communist or syndicalist variety. But now we had taken it over, 
and more properly from the view of etymology; since we were pro- 
ponents of individual liberty and therefore of the individual’s right 
to his property. 

Some libertarians, such as Frank Chodorov, continued to pre- 
fer the word “individualist.” Indeed, what Frank thought of as his 
major legacy to the cause, was his founding of an educational 
Intercollegiate Society of Individualists. Frank devoted a special 
October 1950 issue of analysis to “A Fifty-Year Project” to take 
back intellectual life from the predominant statism in America. 
Chodorov attributed the “transmutation of the American charac- 
ter from individualist to collectivist” to such turn of the twentieth 
century organizations as the Intercollegiate Socialist Society; what 
was needed was an antipode to educate and take back college 
youth, the future of the country. Chodorov reworked his approach 
in “For Our Children’s Children” to a wider audience in the Sep- 
tember 6, 1950 issue of Human Events. As a result the Intercolle- 
giate Society of Individualists was founded in 1953, with the aid of 
a $1,000 donation from J. Howard Pew of Sun Oil, in those days 
the leading contributor to Old Right causes, and with the help of 
the mailing list of FEE. After the first year in Human Events' 

15 Another word captured by statists was “monopoly.” From the sev- 
enteenth through the nineteenth centuries, “monopoly” meant simply a 
grant of exclusive privilege by the State to produce or sell a product. By 
the end of the nineteenth century however, the word had been trans- 
formed into virtually its opposite, coming to mean instead the achieve- 
ment of a price on the free market that was in some sense “too high.” 


The Betrayal of the America n Right 

offices, Chodorov moved the headquarters of ISI to the Founda- 
tion for Economic Education, when he left Human Events in the 
summer of 1954 to take up his duties as editor of a new monthly 
magazine, The Freeman , published by FEE. 


The Postwar Renaissance II: 
Politics and Foreign Policy 

I n the realm of direct politics, it seemed clear that there was 
only one place for those of us not totally disillusioned with 
political action: the “extreme right wing” of the Republican 
Party. It was the extreme right, particularly well represented in 
the House, and including such men as Rep. Howard H. Buffett 
of Omaha, Rep. Ralph W. Gwinn of New York, Frederick C. 
Smith of Ohio, and H.R. Gross of Iowa (virtually the only one of 
the group now remaining), who were solidly isolationist and 
opposed to foreign wars and interventions, and roughly free- 
rnarket and libertarian in domestic affairs. They were, for exam- 
ple, staunchly opposed to conscription, which was put through 
by a coalition of liberals and what used to be called “enlightened” 
conservatives and internationalists. The extreme right also 
included Colonel McCormick’s Chicago Tribune, to which I 
delightedly subscribed for a while, and which continued excellent 
anti-Wall Street and anti-interventionist muckraking, as well as 
continuing articles in behalf of national liberation of the Welsh 
and the Scots from McCormick’s hated England. Senator Taft 
was the major political figure of that wing of the party, but the 
confusion — then and since — came from Taft’s philosophical 
devotion to compromise as a good in itself. As a result, Taft was 
always compromising and “selling out” the individualist cause: 
the free market at home and nonintervention abroad. In the parl- 
ance of that time, then, Taft was really on the “extreme left” of 
the extreme right wing of the Republicans, and his surrenders of 



The Betrayal of the American Right 

principle were constantly thrown at us by the liberals: “Why, even 
Senator Taft favors” federal aid to education, or defense of Chiang, 
or whatever. 

At any rate, I quickly identified myself with the right-wing 
Republicans as soon as I became politically active at the end of 
World War II. I joined the Young Republican Club of New York, 
where I wrote a campaign report in 1946 attacking the Office of 
Price Administration (OPA) and price controls, and took the lais- 
sez-faire side in a series of internal debates on the future of the 
Republican Party. It was a lone minority position, especially 
among the YR’s, who were largely opportunistic lawyers looking 
for place and patronage within the Dewey machine. (Bill Rusher, 
who later became publisher of National Review, was in those days a 
regular Dewey Republican with the YR’s.) However, my enthusi- 
asm was unbounded when the Republicans, largely conservative, 
swept Congress in 1946. At last, socialism and internationalism 
would be rolled back. One of my first published writings was a 
“Hallelujah” letter that I sent to the New York World-Telegram cel- 
ebrating the glorious victory. However, an evil worm soon 
appeared in the apple; true to his compromising nature, Bob Taft 
turned over the leadership of foreign policy in the Senate to the 
renegade isolationist Arthur Vandenberg, now a hero of the New 
York Times - Eastern Establishment circuit. (The bitter rumor on 
the Right was that Vandenberg had literally been seduced into 
changing his foreign policy stance by an English mistress.) It was 
Vandenberg, overriding the fervent opposition of the isolationist 
right wing of the party, who mobilized support for the launching 
of the Cold War, the loan to Britain, the Marshall Plan, and aid to 
Greece and Turkey, to take over the old British imperial role and 
crush the Greek revolution. 

Another severe blow to the Old Right cause in the Republican 
Party was the nomination of Tom Dewey for the presidency in 
1948, Dewey now being a representative of the Eastern Wall Street 
internationalist, statist, “leftish” Establishment. Dewey refused to 
defend the conservative record of the 80th Congress against Harry 
Truman’s sneers at being “do-nothings” (actually, they had done far 
too much). I could not support Dewey for President, and was the 

The Postwar Renaissance II: Politics and Foreign Policy 


only Northerner at Columbia to join the short-lived Students for 
Thurmond Club, basing my support on Strom Thurmond’s decen- 
tralist, states’ rights program. Taft and the Taftites were isolation- 
ist, and therefore far more anti-interventionist and hence anti- 
imperialist than Henry Wallace in the 1948 campaign. The proof 
of this pudding is that Wallace himself and the bulk of his Pro- 
gressive Party supported our Korean imperial adventure in the 
name of “collective security” two years later, while the isolationist 
extreme-right Republicans constituted the only political opposi- 
tion to the war. 1 

The most important fact to realize about the Old Right in the 
postwar era is that it staunchly and steadfastly opposed both Amer- 
ican imperialism and interventionism abroad and its corollary in 
militarism at home. Conscription was vigorously opposed as far 
worse than other forms of statist regulation; for the draft, like slav- 
ery, conscripted the draftee’s most precious “property” — his own 
person and being. Day in and day out, for example, the veteran 
publicist John T. Flynn, now a speaker and writer for the conser- 
vative America’s Future, Inc. — a spinoff of the Committee for 
Constitutional Government — inveighed against militarism and the 
draft. And this despite his increasing support for the Cold War 
abroad. Even the Wall Street weekly, the Commercial and Financial 
Chronicle, published a lengthy attack on conscription. And Frank 
Chodorov, praising in his analysis a pamphlet issued by the 
National Council Against Conscription, wrote that “the State can- 
not intervene in the economic affairs of society without building 
up its coercive machinery, and that, after all, is militarism. Power 
is the correlative of politics.” 

In foreign policy, it was the extreme right-wing Republicans, 
who were particularly strong in the House of Representatives, who 
staunchly battled conscription, NATO, and the Truman Doctrine. 

Tor a revisionist interpretation of Henry Wallace as internationalist, 
see Leonard Liggio and Ronald Radosh, “Henry A. Wallace and the 
Open Door,” in Cold War Critics, Thomas Paterson, ed. (Chicago: 
Quadrangle, 1971), pp. 76-113. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Consider, for example, Omaha’s Representative Howard Buffett, 
Senator Taft’s midwestern campaign manager in 1952, one of the 
most “extreme” of the extremists, a man who consistently received 
a zero rating from such liberal raters of Congressmen as ADA and 
the New Republic, and whom the Nation characterized in that era as 
“an able young man whose ideas have tragically fossilized.” I came 
to know Howard as a genuine, consistent, and thoughtful libertar- 
ian. Attacking the Truman Doctrine on the floor of Congress, Buf- 
fett declared: 

Even if it were desirable, America is not strong enough to 
police the world by military force. If that attempt is made, the 
blessings of liberty will be replaced by coercion and tyranny 
at home. Our Christian ideals cannot be exported to other 
lands by dollars and guns. . . . We cannot practice might and 
force abroad and retain freedom at home. We cannot talk 
world cooperation and practice power politics. 2 

Also in 1947, Representative George Bender of Ohio, who was to 
be Taft’s floor manager in 1952 and later Taft’s successor in the 
Senate, kept up a drumfire of criticism of the Truman Doctrine. 
Attacking the corrupt Greek government and the fraudulent elec- 
tions that had maintained it in power, Bender declared: 

I believe that the White House program is a reaffirmation of 
the nineteenth-century belief in power politics. It is a refine- 
ment of the policy first adopted after the Treaty of Versailles 
in 1919 designed to encircle Russia and establish a “Cordon 
Sanitaire” around the Soviet Union. It is a program which 
points to a new policy of interventionism in Europe as a 
corollary to our Monroe Doctrine in Southern America. Let 
there be no mistake about the far-reaching implications of 
this plan. Once we have taken the historic step of sending 
financial aid, military experts and loans to Greece and 
Turkey, we shall be irrevocably committed to a course of 
action from which it will be impossible to withdraw. More 

2 Congressional Record, 80th Congress, First Session, March 18, 1947, p. 

The Postwar Renaissance II: Politics and Foreign Policy 


and larger demands will follow. Greater needs will arise 
throughout the many areas of friction in the world. ' 

Bender, moreover, was one of the few Congressional defenders of 
Henry Wallace when Wallace spoke abroad in opposition to the 
Truman Doctrine. In answer to such attacks as Deweyite Repre- 
sentative Kenneth Keating’s denunciation of Wallace for “trea- 
son,” and to Winston Churchill’s attacks on Wallace for voicing his 
opposition abroad, Bender replied that if Churchill could attempt 
to launch the Cold War by speaking in the United States, Wallace 
could certainly seek to prevent that war by speaking in Europe. 

Launching an overall criticism of Truman’s foreign policy in 
June, 1947, Bender charged: 

Mr. Truman urged the Congress to authorize a program of 
military collaboration with all the petty and not so petty dic- 
tators of South America. Mr. Truman submitted a draft bill 
which would authorize the United States to take over the 
arming of South America on a scale far beyond that involved 
in the $400,000,000 handout to Greece and Turkey. 

Mr. Truman continued his campaign for universal peace- 
time military training in the United States. 

But military control at home is a part of the emerging 
Truman program. The Truman administration is using all its 
propaganda resources in an attempt to soften up the Ameri- 
can people to accept this idea. 

Yes; the Truman administration is busy in its attempt to 
sell the idea of military control to the people of America. And 
hand in hand with the propaganda campaign go secret meet- 
ings for industrial mobilization. 

This is the kind of thing which is taking place behind 
barred doors in the Pentagon Building, about which the peo- 
ple of the United states [sic] learn only by accident. This is a 
part of the emerging Truman program ... a part of the whole 

3 Congressional Record , 80th Congress, First Session March 28, 1947, 
pp. 2831-32. See in particular Leonard P. Liggio, “Why the Futile 
Crusade?” Left and Right 1, no. 1 (Spring, 1965): 43-44. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Truman doctrine of drawing off the resources of the United 
States in support of every reactionary government in the 
world. 4 

While Senator Taft himself waffled and compromised on foreign 
affairs, especially in regard to China and the support of Chiang, 
Representative Bender did not waver. Warning Congress of the 
“intense pressure” of the China Lobby in May 1947, Bender 

that the Chinese Embassy here has had the arrogance to 
invade our State Department and attempt to tell our State 
Department that the Truman Doctrine has committed our 
Government and this Congress to all-out support of the 
present Fascist Chinese Government. 5 

Even Taft himself took a generally isolationist and anti-inter- 
ventionist stance. Thus, the Senator opposed the Marshall Plan, for 
one reason because “granting aid to Europe would only furnish the 
Communists with further arguments against the ‘imperialist’ policy 
of the United States.” Furthermore, Taft declared that if the coun- 
tries of Western Europe should decide to include Communists in 
their governments, this would be proof that competitive capitalism 
had not been approved in Europe, which instead was ridden with 
cartels and privileges. Particularly commendable was Taft’s courage 
in refusing to be stamped by the Trumanite liberals and Republi- 
can interventionists into favoring Cold War measures in response 
to the Communist “takeover” in Czechoslovakia in 1948 — a 
“coup” which actually consisted of the resignation of rightist mem- 
bers of the Czech cabinet, leaving a leftist government in power. 
Taft stoutly denied that Russia had any plans for initiating aggres- 
sion or conquering additional territory: the Russian influence, Taft 
pointed out, “has been predominant in Czechoslovakia since the 

4 Congressional Record, 80th Congress, First Session, June 6, 1947, pp. 
6562-63. Quoted in Liggio, “Why the Futile Crusade?” pp. 45-46. 

5 Ibid., pp. 46-47. 

The Postwar Renaissance II: Politics and Foreign Policy 


end of the war. The Communists are merely consolidating their 
position in Czechoslovakia but there has been no military aggres- 

Senator Taft also opposed the Cold War creation of NATO in 
1949. He warned that 

the building up of a great army surrounding Russia from 
Norway to Turkey and Iran might produce a fear of the inva- 
sion of Russia or some of the satellite countries regarded by 
Russia as essential to the defense of Moscow. 

NATO, Taft warned, violated the entire spirit of the UN Charter: 

An undertaking by the most powerful nation in the world to 
arm half the world against the other half goes far beyond any 
“right of collective defense if an armed attacked occurs.” It 
violates the whole spirit of the United Nations Charter. . . . 

The Atlantic Pact moves in exactly the opposite direction 
from the purposes of the charter and makes a farce of further 
efforts to secure international justice through law and justice. 

It necessarily divides the world into two armed camps. . . . 

This treaty, therefore, means inevitably an armament race, 
and armament races in the past have led to war. 6 

In a debate with Senator John Foster Dulles, scion of Wall 
Street and the Rockefeller interests, in July 1949, Taft affirmed 
that “I cannot vote for a treaty which, in my opinion, will do far 
more to bring about a third world war than it ever will to maintain 
the peace of the world.” 

Even on Asia, Taft, in January 1950, opposed the Truman pol- 
icy of supplying aid to the French army in suppressing the Indo- 
Chinese national revolution; he also warned that he would not 
support any commitment to back Chiang in a war against China, 
and he called for the removal of Chiang, his bureaucrats, and his 

6 Robert A. Taft, A Foreign Policy for Americans (New York: Doubleday 
& Co., 1951), pp. 89-90, 113. Quoted in Liggio, “Why the Futile 
Crusade?” pp. 49-50. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

army of occupation on Formosa in order to permit the Formosan 
people a free vote on their own self-determination: 

[A]s I understand it, the people of Formosa, if permitted to 
vote, would probably vote to set up an independent republic 
of Formosa. ... If, at the peace conference, it is decided that 
Formosa be set up as an independent republic, we certainly 
have the means to force the Nationalists’ surrender of For- 
mosa. 7 

Furthermore, in early 1950 many internationalist Republicans 
joined with the isolationists to deal a severe blow to our mounting 
intervention in Asia — a defeat of the Truman administration’s $60 
million aid bill for South Korea by one vote. It was generally 
agreed by the opponents that aid to the Rhee regime was a com- 
plete waste and that Korea was beyond the American defense 
interest. The historian Tang Tsou noted that “this was the first 
major setback in Congress for the administration in the field of 
foreign policy since the end of the war.” 8 

It was only the efforts of Representative Walter Judd (R., 
Minn.), veteran internationalist, former missionary in China, and 
leader of the China lobby in Congress, that induced the House, in 
a fateful shift, to reverse its decision. 

The Korean War was the last great stand of the antiwar isola- 
tionism of the Old Right. This was a time when virtually the entire 
Old Left, with the exception of the Communist Party and of I.F. 
Stone, surrendered to the global mystique of the United Nations 
and its “collective security against aggression,” and backed Tru- 
man’s imperialist aggression in that war. The fact that the UN was 

7 Robert A. Taft, ‘“Hang On’ To Formosa: Hold Until Peace Treaty 
with Japan Is Signed,” Vital Speeches 16, no. 8 (February 1, 1950): 236-37. 
Quoted in Liggio, “Why the Futile Crusade?” p. 52. 

Tang Tsou, America's Failure in China, 1941-50 (Chicago: University 
of Chicago Press, 1963), pp. 537-38. Quoted in Liggio, “Why the Futile 
Crusade?” p. 53. 

The Postwar Renaissance II: Politics and Foreign Policy 


and has continued to be a tool of the United States was scarcely 
considered. Even Corliss Lamont supported the American stand in 
Korea, along with virtually the entire leadership of the Progressive 
Party. Only the extreme right-wing Republicans valiantly opposed 
the war. 

Howard Buffett, for example, was convinced that the United 
States was largely responsible for the eruption of conflict in Korea, 
for he had been told by Senator Stiles Bridges (R., N.H.) that 
Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoeter, head of the CIA, had so testified in 
secret before the Senate Armed Services Committee at the out- 
break of the war. For his indiscretion in testifying, Admiral Hil- 
lenkoeter was soon fired by President Truman and was little heard 
from again in Washington. For the rest of his life, Buffett carried 
on a crusade to have Congress declassify the Hillenkoeter testi- 
mony, but without success. Buffett recalled to me with pleasure in 
later years that I.F. Stone had sent him a warm note, commending 
him for his leadership in Congress in opposing the Korean con- 
flict. In retrospect, it is unfortunate that Howard did not follow up 
the Stone feeler and move to establish a Feft-Right alliance against 
the war — although, as I have said, there was precious little Feft 
sentiment in opposition. 

Senator Taft attacked the Truman intervention in Korea; he 
insisted that Korea was not vital to the Untied States, that the 
intervention could be construed as a threat to the security of the 
Soviet bloc, and that the “police action” violated the UN Charter 
and was an unconstitutional aggrandizement of the war powers of 
the President. “If the President can intervene in Korea without 
congressional approval,” Taft charged, “he can go to war in Malaya 
or Indonesia or Iran or South America.” In contrast, the Nation 
and the New Republic, which had previously been critical of the 
Truman Doctrine and the Cold War, now joined up with enthusi- 
asm. These two liberal journals denounced Taft and Colonel 
McCormick’s Chicago Tribune for joining the Communists in their 
“defeatism,” in opposing the war. The savage campaign against 
Taft’s re-election in 1950 was the occasion of a massive assault on 
Taft by organized liberalism, with the Truman administration 
attacking Taft’s isolationism and alleged softness toward the Soviet 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Union. The New Republic, in its September 4 analysis of congres- 
sional voting, hailed the Democrats for their staunchly “anti-Com- 
munist” voting record in foreign affairs (87 percent); Senator Taft, 
on the other hand, had only a 53 percent score for the New Repub- 
lic, while such more consistent isolationists as Senator Kenneth 
Wherry (R., Neb.) had only a 23 percent “anti-Communist” mark. 
And the New Republic sourly noted the consistency of Taft’s isola- 
tionism and “legalistic” devotion to nonaggression and interna- 
tional law: 

There has historically been a working affinity between isola- 
tionists and legalists — the former attacked Roosevelt’s 1941 
destroyer deal as warmongering, the latter as dictatorship. 

There are signs that this coalition is again tightening. ’ 

At the opening of the new Congress in early 1951, the isola- 
tionist forces, led by Senators Wherry and Taft, launched an attack 
on the war by submitting a resolution prohibiting the President 
from sending any troops abroad without prior approval of Con- 
gress. They attacked Truman’s refusal to accept a ceasefire or to 
agree to peace in Korea, and warned that the United Sates did not 
have enough troops for a stalemated land war on the Asian conti- 
nent. Taft also attacked the President’s assertion of the right to use 
atomic weapons and to send troops out of the country on his own 

An intriguing attack on Senator Taft’s foreign policy was 
launched by the highly influential war-liberal McGeorge Bundy. 
Bundy expressed worry that Taft’s solid re-election victory indi- 
cated popular support for limiting the executive’s power to lead the 
United States into conflict without congressional sanction. As 
Leonard Liggio puts it, 

Taft’s preference for negotiations rather than wastage of 
blood in military interventions appeared to Bundy as a failure 
to assert America’s global leadership against Communism 

; “The Hoover Line Grows,” New Republic 124 (January 15, 1951): 7. 
Quoted in Liggio, “Why the Futile Crusade?” p. 57. 

The Postwar Renaissance II: Politics and Foreign Policy 


and as a defective attitude of doubt, mistrust and fear towards 
America’s national purpose in the world. 10 

Bundy declared that the normal statesman’s pursuit of peace must 
be discarded and replaced by the power-wielder who applies diplo- 
macy and military might in a permanent struggle against world 
communism in limited wars alternating with limited periods of 
peace. Hence Bundy criticized Taft for “appeasement” in opposing 
the encircling of the Soviet Union by military alliances, and the 
intervention in Korea, and finally for Taft’s willingness to compro- 
mise with Communist China in order to extricate ourselves from 
the Korean debacle. 

Bundy also differed strongly with Taft over the latter’s launch- 
ing of an open debate on the Korean War. For Taft had denounced 
the idea of unquestioning support for the President in military 

Anyone [who] dared to suggest criticism or even a thorough 
debate . . . was at once branded as an isolationist and a sabo- 
teur of unity and the bipartisan foreign policy. 11 

Bundy, in contrast, denounced the idea of any recriminations or 
even public questioning of the decisions of the executive policy- 
makers, for the public merely reacted ad hoc to given situations 
without being committed to the policymakers’ rigid conception of 
the national purpose. 12 

The last famous isolationist Old Right political thrust came in 
a Great Debate that ensued upon the heels of our crushing defeat 
at the hands of the Chinese in late 1950, a defeat in which the 
Chinese had driven the American forces out of North Korea. The 

10 Liggio, “Why the Futile Crusade?” p. 57. 

11 Congressional Record, 82nd Congress, 1st Session, January 5, 1951, p. 

'“McGeorge Bundy, “The Private World of Robert Taft,” The 
Reporter, December 11, 1951; Bundy, “Appeasement, Provocation, and 
Policy” The Reporter, January 9, 1951. See Liggio, “Why the Futile 
Crusade?” pp. 57-60. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Truman administration stubbornly refused to acknowledge the 
new realities and to make peace in Korea on the basis of the 3 8th 
parallel, thereby condemning American troops to years of heavy 
casualties. In response, two well-known isolationist elder states- 
men, Herbert Hoover and Joseph P. Kennedy, delivered ringing 
and obviously coordinated back-to-back speeches in December 
1950 calling for American evacuation of Korea and an end to the 
war in Asia. 

On December 12, former Ambassador Kennedy noted the 
decades-long continuity of his own isolationist antiwar stand, and 

From the start I had no patience with a policy that without 
due regard to our resources — human and material — would 
make commitments abroad that we could not fulfill. As 
Ambassador to London in 1939 I had seen the folly of this 
when the British made their commitment to Poland that they 
could not fulfill and have not yet fulfilled — a commitment 
that brought them into war. 

I naturally opposed Communism, but said if portions of 
Europe or Asia were to go Communistic or even had Com- 
munism thrust upon them, we cannot stop it. Instead we 
must make sure of our strength and be certain not to fritter it 
away in battles that could not be won. 

But where are we now? Beginning with intervention in 
the Italian elections and financial and political aid to Greece 
and Turkey, we have expanded our political and financial pro- 
grams on an almost unbelievably wide scale. Billions have 
been spent in the Marshall plan, further billions in the occu- 
pation of Berlin, Western Germany and Japan. Military aid 
has been poured into Greece, Turkey, Iran, the nations of the 
North Atlantic Pact, French Indo-China, and now in Korea 
we are fighting the fourth-greatest war in our history 

What have we in return for this effort? Friends? We have 
far fewer friends than we had in 1945. . . . 

To engage those vast armies [of the Communist countries] 
on the European or Asian continent is foolhardy but that is the 
direction towards which our policy has been tending. 

That policy is suicidal. It has made us no foul weather 
friends. It has kept our armament scattered over the globe. It 

The Postwar Renaissance II: Politics and Foreign Policy 


has picked one battlefield and threatens to pick others impos- 
sibly removed from our sources of supply. It has not con- 
tained Communism. By our methods of opposition it has 
solidified Communism, where otherwise Communism might 
have bred within itself internal dissensions. Our policy today 
is politically and morally a bankrupt policy. 

Kennedy concluded that the only alternative was for America to 
abandon the entire policy of global intervention and adopt isola- 
tionism once more: 

I can see no alternative other than having the courage to wash 
up this policy and start with the fundamentals I urged more 
than five years ago. . . . 

A first step in the pursuit of this policy is to get out of 
Korea — indeed, to get out of every point in Asia which we do 
not plan to hold in our own defense. Such a policy means that 
in the Pacific we will pick our own battlegrounds if we are 
forced to fight and not have them determined by political and 
ideological considerations that have no relationship to our 
own defense. 

The next step in pursuit of this policy is to apply the 
same principle to Europe. Today it is idle to talk of being able 
to hold the line of the Elbe or the line of the Rhine. Why 
should we waste valuable resources in making such an 
attempt? ... To pour arms and men into a Quixotic military 
adventure makes no sense whatever. What have we gained by 
staying in Berlin? Everyone knows we can be pushed out the 
moment the Russians choose to push us out. . . . 

The billions that we have squandered on these enter- 
prises could have been far more effectively used in this hemi- 
sphere and on the seas that surround it. . . . 

People will say, however, that this policy will not contain 
Communism. Will our present policy do so? Can we possibly 
contain Communist Russia, if she chooses to march, by a far- 
flung battle line in the middle of Europe? The truth is that 
our only real hope is to keep Russia, if she chooses to march, 
on the other side of the Atlantic and make Communism 
much too costly for her to try to cross the seas. It may be that 
Europe for a decade or a generation or more will turn Com- 
munistic. But in doing so, it may break of itself as a unified 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

force. Communism still has to prove itself to its peoples as a 
government that will achieve for them a better way of living. 

The more people that it will have to govern, the more neces- 
sary it becomes for those who govern to justify themselves to 
those being governed. The more peoples that are under its 
yoke, the greater are the possibilities of revolt. Moreover, it 
seems certain that Communism spread over Europe will not 
rest content with being governed by a handful of men in the 
Kremlin. Tito in Jugoslavia is already demonstrating this fact. 

Mao in China is not likely to take his orders from Stalin. . . . 

After this highly prophetic forecast — greatly derided at the time — 
of the inevitable breaking up of the international Communist 
monolith, Kennedy courageously added: 

This policy will, of course, be criticized as appeasement. No 
word is more mistakenly used. Is it appeasement to withdraw 
from unwise commitments . . . and to make clear just exactly 
how and for what you will fight? If it is wise in our interest 
not to make commitments that endanger our security, and 
this is appeasement, then I am for appeasement. I can recall 
only too well the precious time bought by Chamberlain at 
Munich. I applauded that purchase then; I would applaud it 
today. Today, however, while we have avoided a Munich, we 
are coming perilously close to another Dunkirk. Personally, I 
should choose to escape the latter. 

And Kennedy concluded, on the current mess in Asia and foreign 
affairs generally: 

Half of this world will never submit to dictation by the other 
half. The two can only agree to live next to each other 
because for one to absorb the other becomes too costly. 

An attitude of realism such as this is, I submit, in accord 
with our historic traditions. We have never wanted a part of 
other peoples’ scrapes. Today we have them and just why, 
nobody quite seems to know. What business is it of ours to 
support French colonial policy in Indo-China or to achieve 
Mr. Syngman Rhee’s concepts of democracy in Korea? Shall 
we now send the Marines into the moun tains of Tibet to keep 
the Dalai Lama on his throne? We can do well to mind our 

The Postwar Renaissance II: Politics and Foreign Policy 


business and interfere only where somebody threatens our 
business and our homes. 

The policy I suggest, moreover, gives us a chance eco- 
nomically to keep our heads above water. For years, I have 
argued the necessity for not burdening ourselves with unnec- 
essary debts. There is no surer way to destroy the basis of 
American enterprise than to destroy the initiative of the men 
who make it. . . . Those who recall 1932 know too easily the 
dangers that can arise from within when our own economic 
system fails to function. If we weaken it with lavish spending 
either on foreign nations or in foreign wars, we run the dan- 
ger of precipitating another 1932 and of destroying the very 
system which we are trying to save. 

An Atlas, whose back is bowed and whose hands are busy 
holding up the world, has no arms to lift to deal with his own 
defense. Increase his burdens and you will crush him. . . . 

This is our present posture. . . . The suggestions I make . . . 
would . . . conserve American lives for American ends, not 
waste them in the freezing hills of Korea or on the battle- 
scarred plains of Western Germany. 13 

Eight days later, Herbert Hoover backed up the Kennedy 
speech with one of his own on nationwide network radio. While 
refusing to go as far as Kennedy, and indeed attacking “appease- 
ment” and “isolationism” and scorning fears of “Dunkirks,” 
Hoover insisted: 

We must face the fact that to commit the sparse ground 
forces of the non-Communist nations into a land war against 
this Communist land mass would be a war without victory, a 
war without a successful terminal. Any attempt to make war 
on the Communist mass by land invasion, through the quick- 
sands of China, India or Western Europe, is sheer folly. That 
would be the graveyard of millions of American boys and 

1 '’Joseph P. Kennedy, “Present Policy is Politically and Morally 
Bankrupt,” Vital Speeches 17, no. 6 (January 1, 1951): 170-73. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

would end in the exhaustion of this Gibraltar of Western Civ- 
ilization. 14 

It is instructive to note the reactions of organized Liberalism to 
the Kennedy-Hoover thesis, a position supported by Senator Taft. 
Along with the Truman administration and such Wall Street-ori- 
ented Republicans as Governor Dewey and John Foster Dulles, 
the Nation and the New Republic proceeded to red-bait these dis- 
tinguished right-wing leaders. The Nation charged: 

The line they are laying down for their country should set the 
bells ringing in the Kremlin as nothing has since the triumph 
of Stalingrad. Actually the line taken by Pravda is that the 
former President did not carry isolationism far enough. 

And the New Republic summarized the isolationist position as hold- 
ing that the Korean War “was the creation not of Stalin, but of 
Truman, just as Roosevelt, not Hitler, caused the Second World 
War.” And in the desire of Taft, Hoover, and Kennedy to accept 
Soviet offers of negotiating peace, the New Republic saw an 

opposition who saw nothing alarming in Hitler’s conquest of 
Europe (and who would clearly grab at the bait). Stalin, after 
raising the ante, as he did with Hider, and sweeping over 
Asia, would move on until the Stalinist caucus in the Tribune 
tower would bring out in triumph the first Communist edi- 
tion of the Chicago Tribune. 

The New Republic was particularly exercised over the fact that the 

condemned U.S. participation in Korea as unconstitutional 
and provided that the only funds available for overseas troops 
shipment should be funds necessaiy to facilitate the extrica- 
tion of U.S. forces now in Korea. 15 

14 Herbert Hoover, “Our National Policies in This Crisis,” in ibid., pp. 

l5 “Hoover’s Folly,” Nation 171, no. 27 (December 30, 1950): 688; 
“Korea: Will China Fight the UN?” New Republic 123 (November 20, 

The Postwar Renaissance II: Politics and Foreign Policy 


One of the people whom the New Republic was undoubtedly 
referring to as part of the “Stalinist caucus” at Colonel 
McCormick’s valiantly isolationist Chicago Tribune was George 
Morgenstern, editorial writer for the Tribune and author of the 
first great, and still the basic, revisionist work on Pearl Harbor, 
Pearl Harbor: Story of a Secret War . 16 During the Korean War, Mor- 
genstern published a blistering article, summing up the century of 
American imperialism, in the right-wing Washington weekly 
Human Events, then open to isolationist material but having 
become, since the resignation of Felix Morley, a hack tabloid for 
the warmongering New Right. Morgenstern wrote: 

At the end of the 19th century the United States began to stir 
with those promptings of imperialism and altruism which 
have worked to the mischief of so many puissant states. The 
sinister Spaniard provided a suitable punching bag. Two days 
before McKinley went to Congress with a highly misleading 
message which was an open invitation to war, the Spanish 
government had agreed to the demands for an armistice in 
Cuba and American mediation. There was no good reason, 
but there was war anyway. We wound up the war with a cou- 
ple of costly dependencies, but this was enough to intoxicate 
the precursors of those who now swoon on very sight of the 
phrase “world leadership.” 

McKinley testified that in lonely sessions on his knees at 
night he had been guided to the realization that we must 
“uplift and civilize and Christianize” the Filipinos. He 
asserted that the war had brought new duties and responsi- 
bilities “which we must meet and discharge as becomes a 
great nation on whose growth and career from the beginning 
the Ruler of Nations has plainly written the high command 
and pledge of civilization.” This sort of exalted nonsense is 
familiar to anyone who later attended the evangelical ration- 
alizations of Wilson for intervening in the European war, of 

1950) : 5-6; “Can We Save World Peace?” New Republic 124 (January 1, 

1951) : 5 and January 15, 1951, p. 7. Cited in Liggio, “Why the Futile 
Crusade?” p. 56. 

16 (New York: Devin- Adair, 1947). 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Roosevelt promising the millennium . . . of Eisenhower treas- 
uring the “crusade in Europe” that somehow went sour, or of 
Truman, Stevenson, Paul Douglas, or the New York Times 
preaching the holy war in Korea. . . . 

An all-pervasive propaganda has established a myth of 
inevitability in American action: all wars were necessary, all 
wars were good. The burden of proof rests with those who 
contend that America is better off, that American security has 
been enhanced, and that prospects of world peace have been 
improved by American intervention in four wars in half a 
century. Intervention began with deceit by McKinley; it ends 
with deceit by Roosevelt and Truman. 

Perhaps we would have a rational foreign policy ... if 
Americans could be brought to realize that the first necessity 
is the renunciation of the lie as an instrument of foreign pol- 
icy. 17 


George Morgenstern, “ 
(April 22, 1953). 

The Past Marches On, 

Human Events 


The Postwar Renaissance III: 
Libertarians and Foreign Policy 

O ne of the most brilliant and forceful attacks on Cold War 
foreign policy in this era came from the pen of the veteran 
conservative and free-market publicist Caret Garrett. In 
his pamphlet “The Rise of Empire,” published in 1952, Garrett 
began by declaring: “We have crossed the boundary that lies 
between Republic and Empire.” Linking his thesis with his pam- 
phlet of the 1930s, “The Revolution Was,” denouncing the advent 
of domestic executive and statist despotism within the republican 
form under the New Deal, Garrett saw once more a “revolution 
within the form” of the old constitutional republic: 

After President Truman, alone and without either the con- 
sent or knowledge of Congress, had declared war on the 
Korean aggressor, 7,000 miles away, Congress condoned his 
usurpation of its exclusive Constitutional power to declare 
war. More than that, his political supporters in Congress 
argued that in the modern case that sentence in the Consti- 
tution conferring upon Congress the sole power to declare 
war was obsolete. . . . 

Mr. Truman’s supporters argued that in the Korean 
instance his act was defensive and therefore within his pow- 
ers as Commander-in-Chief. In that case, to make it Consti- 
tutional, he was legally obliged to ask Congress for a declara- 
tion of war afterward. This he never did. For a week Con- 
gress relied upon the papers for news of the country’s entry 
into war; then the President called a few of its leaders to the 
White House and told them what he had done. . . . 



The Betrayal of the American Right 

A few months later Mr. Truman sent American troops to 
Europe to join an international army, and did it not only 
without a law, without even consulting Congress, but chal- 
lenged the power of Congress to stop it. 1 

Garrett noted that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 
then asked the State Department to set forth the position of the 
executive branch on the powers of the President to send troops 
abroad. The State Department declared that “constitutional doc- 
trine has been largely molded by practical necessities. Use of the 
congressional power to declare war, for example, has fallen into 
abeyance because wars are no longer declared in advance.” Garrett 
added that “Caesar might have said it to the Roman Senate,” and 
that this statement “stands as a forecast of executive intentions, a 
manifestation of the executive mind, a mortal challenge to the par- 
liamentary principle.” 

What, then, were the hallmarks of Empire? The first requisite, 
Garrett declared, was that “the executive power of government 
shall be dominant.” For 

what Empire needs above all in government is an executive 
power that can make immediate decisions, such as a decision 
in the middle of the night by the President to declare war on 
the aggressor in Korea. 2 

In previous years, he added, it was assumed that the function of the 
Congress was to speak for the American people. But now 

it is the President, standing at the head of the Executive Gov- 
ernment, who says: “I speak for the people” or “I have a man- 
date from the people.”. . . Now much more than Congress, 
the President acts directly upon the emotions and passions of 
the people to influence their thinking. As he controls Execu- 
tive Government, so he controls the largest propaganda 
machine in the world. The Congress has no propaganda 

^aret Garrett, The People's Pottage (Caldwell, Id.: Caxton Printers, 
1953), pp. 122-23. 

2 Ibid., p. 129. 

The Postwar Renaissance III: Libertarians and Foreign Policy 


apparatus at all and continually finds itself under pressure 
from the people who have been moved for or against some- 
thing by the ideas and thought material broadcast in the land 
by the administrative bureaus in Washington. 

The powers of the executive are aggrandized by delegation from 
Congress, by continual reinterpretation of the language of the 
Constitution, by the appearance of a large number of administra- 
tive bureaus within the executive, by usurpation, and as a natural 
corollary of the country’s intervening more and more into foreign 

A second hallmark of the existence of Empire, continued Gar- 
rett, is that “Domestic policy becomes subordinate to foreign pol- 
icy.” This is what happened to Rome, and to the British Empire. It 
is also happening to us, for 

as we convert the nation into a garrison state to build the 
most terrible war machine that has ever been imagined on 
earth, every domestic policy is bound to be conditioned by 
our foreign policy. The voice of government is saying that if 
our foreign policy fails we are ruined. It is all or nothing. Our 
survival as a free nation is at hazard. That makes it simple, for 
in that case there is no domestic policy that may not have to 
be sacrificed to the necessities of foreign policy — even free- 
dom. ... If the cost of defending not ourselves alone but the 
whole non-Russian world threatens to wreck our solvency, 
still we must go on. 3 

Garrett concluded, 

We are no longer able to choose between peace and war. We 
have embraced perpetual war. . . . Wherever and whenever 
the Russian aggressor attacks, in Europe, Asia, or Africa, 
there we must meet him. We are so committed by the Tru- 
man Doctrine, by examples of our intention, by the global 
posting of our armed forces, and by such formal engagements 
as the North Atlantic Treaty and the Pacific Pact. 

3 Ibid., p. 139. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

And, furthermore, 

Let it be a question of survival, and how relatively unimpor- 
tant are domestic policies — touching, for example, the rights 
of private property, when if necessary, all private property 
may be confiscated; or touching individual freedom, when, if 
necessary, all labor may be conscripted. . . . The American 
mind is already conditioned. 

Garrett then — himself prophetically — pointed to the keen 
prophetic insight of a New York Times editorial of October 31, 
195 1 , in detailing the permanent changes in American life wrought 
by the Korean War. Wrote the Times : 

We are embarking on a partial mobilization for which about 
a hundred billion dollars have been already made available. 

We have been compelled to activate and expand our alliances 
at an ultimate cost of some twenty-five billion dollars, to 
press for rearmament of former enemies and to scatter our 
own forces at military bases throughout the world. Finally, 
we have been forced not only to retain but to expand the draft 
and to press for a system of universal military training which 
will affect the lives of a whole generation. The productive 
effort and the tax burden resulting from these measures are 
changing the economic pattern of the land. 

What is not so clearly understood, here or abroad, is that 
these are not temporary measures for a temporary emergency 
but rather the beginning of a whole new military status for 
the United States, which seems certain to be with us for a 
long time to come. 

Garrett, endorsing this insight, added sardonically that “probably 
never before in any history, could so dire a forecast have been 
made in these level tones” — tones made possible by the myth that 
this new state of affairs was “not the harvest of our foreign policy 
but Jehovah acting through the Russians to afflict us — and nobody 
else responsible.” 4 

4 Ibid., pp. 140-41. 

The Postwar Renaissance III: Libertarians and Foreign Policy 


A third brand of Empire, continued Garrett, is the “ascendancy 
of the military mind.” Garrett noted that the great symbol of the 
American military mind is the Pentagon Building in Washington, 
built during World War II, as a “forethought of perpetual war.” 
There at the Pentagon, “global strategy is conceived; there, 
nobody knows how, the estimates of what it will cost are arrived at; 
and surrounding it is our own iron curtain.” The Pentagon allows 
the public to know only the information that it wills it to learn; 

All the rest is stamped “classified” or “restricted,” in the name 
of national security, and Congress itself cannot get it. That is 
as it must be of course; the most important secrets of Empire 
are military secrets. 

Garrett went on to quote the devastating critique of our garri- 
son state by General Douglas MacArthur: 

Talk of imminent threat to our national security through the 
application of external force is pure nonsense. . . . Indeed, it 
is a part of the general patterns of misguided policy that our 
country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in 
an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured 
upon an incessant propaganda of fear. While such an econ- 
omy may produce a sense of seeming prosperity for the 
moment, it rests on an illusionary foundation of complete 
unreliability and renders among our political leaders almost a 
greater fear of peace than is their fear of war. 

Garrett then interprets that quotation as follows: 

War becomes an instrument of domestic policy. . . . [The 
government may] increase or decrease the tempo of military 
expenditures, as the planners decide that what the economy 
needs is a little more inflation or a little less. . . . And whereas 
it was foreseen that when Executive Government is resolved 
to control the economy it will come to have a vested interest 
in the power of inflation, so now we may perceive that it will 
come also to have a kind of proprietary interest in the insti- 
tution of perpetual war. 5 

5 Ibid., pp. 148-49. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

A fourth mark of Empire, continued Garrett, is “a system of 
satellite nations.” We speak only of Russian “satellites,” and with 
contempt, but “we speak of our own satellites as allies and friends 
or as freedom loving nations.” The meaning of satellite is a “hired 
guard.” As Garrett notes: 

When people say we have lost China or that if we lose 
Europe it will be a disaster, what do they mean? How could 
we lose China or Europe, since they never belonged to us? 

What they mean is that we have lost or may lose a following 
of dependent people who act as an outer guard. 

Armed with a vast array of satellites, we then find that “for any one 
of them to involve us in war it is necessary only for the Executive 
Power in Washington to decide that its defense is somehow essen- 
tial to the security of the United States.” The system had its ori- 
gins in the Lend-Lease Act of 1941. Garrett concludes that the 
Imperial Center is pervaded by a fear of standing alone in the 
world, without satellites. 

Fear at last assumes the phase of a patriotic obsession. It is 
stronger than any political party. . . . The basic conviction is 
simple. We cannot stand alone. A capitalistic economy, 
though it possesses half the industrial power of the whole 
world, cannot defend its own hemisphere. It may be able to 
save the world; alone it cannot save itself. It must have allies. 
Fortunately it is able to buy them, bribe them, arm them, 
feed and clothe them; it may cost us more than we can afford, 
yet we must have them or perish. 6 

The final hallmark of Empire is “a complex of vaunting and 
fear.” Here Garrett cuts to the heart of the imperial psychology. 
On the one hand vaunting: 

The people of Empire . . . are mighty. They have performed 
prodigious works. ... So those must have felt who lived out 
the grandeur that was Rome. So the British felt while they 
ruled the world. So now Americans feel. As we assume 

6 Ibid., pp. 150, 155. 

The Postwar Renaissance III: Libertarians and Foreign Policy 


unlimited political liabilities all over the world, as billions in 
multiples of ten are voted for the ever expanding global 
intention, there is only scorn for the one who says: “We are 
not infinite.” The answer is: “What we will to do, that we can 

But in addition to vaunting is the fear. 

Fear of the barbarian. Fear of standing alone. ... A time 
comes when the guard itself, that is, your system of satellites, 
is a source of fear. Satellites are often willful and the more 
you rely upon them the more willful and demanding they are. 

There is, therefore, the fear of offending them. . . . Flow will 
they behave when the test comes? — when they face . . . the 
terrible reality of becoming the European battlefield 
whereon the security of the United States shall be defended? 

If they falter or fail, what will become of the weapons with 
which we have supplied them? 7 

Having concluded that we now have all the hallmarks of 
Empire, Garrett then points out that the United States, like previ- 
ous empires, feels itself “a prisoner of history.” Americans feel 
somehow obliged to play their supposed role on the world stage. 
For beyond fear lies “collective security” and beyond that lies “a 
greater thought.” In short: 

It is our turn. 

Our turn to do what? 

Our turn to assume the responsibilities of moral leadership 
in the world. 

Our turn to maintain a balance of power against the forces 
of evil everywhere — in Europe and Asia and Africa, in the 
Atlantic and in the Pacific, by air and by sea — evil in this case 
being the Russian barbarian. 

Our turn to keep the peace of the world. 

7 Ibid., pp. 155-57. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Our turn to save civilization. 

Our turn to serve mankind. 

But this is the language of Empire. The Roman Empire 
never doubted that it was the defender of civilization. Its 
good intentions were peace, law and order. The Spanish 
Empire added salvation. The British Empire added the 
noble myth of the white man’s burden. We have added free- 
dom and democracy. Yet the more that may be added to it 
the more it is the same language still. A language of power. 8 9 

Garrett ends his splendid work by calling for the recapture of 
the “lost terrain” of liberty and republicanism from executive 
tyranny and Empire. But, as he pointed out, we must face the fact 

that the cost of saving the Republic may be extremely high. It 
could be relatively as high as the cost of setting it up in the 
first place, one hundred and seventy-five years ago, when love 
of political liberty was a mighty passion, and people were 
willing to die for it. . . . [Deceleration will cause a terrific 
shock. Who will say, “Now?” Who is willing to face the grim 
and dangerous realities of deflation and depression? . . . No 
doubt the people know they can have their Republic back if 
they want it enough to fight for it and to pay the price. The 
only point is that no leader has yet appeared with the courage 
to make them choose/ 

No less enthusiastic was the devotion to peace and the opposi- 
tion to the Korean War and militarism on the part of the more 
narrowly libertarian wing of the Old Right movement. Thus, 
Leonard Read published a powerful pamphlet, “Conscience on the 
Battlefield” (1951), in which he imagined himself as a young 
American soldier dying on a battlefield in Korea and engaged in a 
dialogue with his own conscience. The Conscience informs the 
soldier that 

8 Ibid., pp. 158-59. 

9 Ibid., pp. 173-74. 

The Postwar Renaissance III: Libertarians and Foreign Policy 


while in many respects you were an excellent person, the 
record shows that you killed many men — both Korean and 
Chinese — and were also responsible for the death of many 
women and children during this military campaign. 

The soldier replies that the war was “good and just,” that “we had 
to stop Communist aggression and the enslavement of people by 
dictators.” Conscience asks him, “Did you kill these people as an 
act of self-defense? Were they threatening your life or your fam- 
ily? Were they on your shores, about to enslave you?” The soldier 
again replies that he was serving the clever U.S. foreign policy, 
which anticipates our enemies’ actions by defeating them first 

Read’s Conscience then responds: 

Governments and such are simply phrases, mere abstractions 
behind which persons often seek to hide their actions and 
responsibilities. ... In the Temple of Judgment which you are 
about to enter, Principles only are likely to be observed. It is 
almost certain that you will find there no distinction between 
nationalities or between races. ... A child is a child, with as 
much right to an opportunity for Self-realization as you. To 
take a human life — at whatever age, or of any color — is to 
take a human life. . . . According to your notions, no one per- 
son is responsible for the deaths of these people. Yet they 
were destroyed. Seemingly, you expect collective arrange- 
ments such as “the army” or “the government” to bear your 
guilt. 10 

On the matter of guilt, the Conscience adds that 

there can be no distinction between those who do the shoot- 
ing and those who aid the act — whether they aid it behind the 
lines by making the ammunition, or by submitting to the pay- 
ment of taxes for war. Moreover, the guilt would appear to be 

10 Leonard F. Read, Conscience on the Battlefield (Irvington-on-Hudson, 
N.Y.: Foundation for Economic Education, 195 1), pp. 8-11. It is indica- 
tive of the decay of the older libertarian movement and of FEE that 
Read’s pamphlet was never included in FEE’s Essays on Liberty and was 
allowed to disappear rather quickly from circulation. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

even greater on the part of those who resorted to the coercive 
power of government to get you to sacrifice your home, your 
fortune, your chance of Self-realization, your life — none of 
which sacrifices do they themselves appear willing to make. 

In introducing his pamphlet, Read wrote: “War is liberty’s 
greatest enemy, and the deadly foe of economic progress.” Sec- 
onding that view was libertarian leader F.A. “Baldy” Harper, in a 
FEE pamphlet, “In Search of Peace,” published in the same year. 
There Harper wrote: 

Charges of pacifism are likely to be hurled at anyone who in 
troubled times raises any question about the race into war. If 
pacifism means embracing the objective of peace, I am will- 
ing to accept the charge. If it means opposing all aggression 
against others, I am willing to accept the charge also. It is 
now urgent in the interest of liberty that many persons 
become “peacemongers . . .” 

So the nation goes to war, and while war is going on, the 
real enemy [the idea of slavery] — long ago forgotten and 
camouflaged by the processes of war — rides on to victory in 
both camps. . . . Further evidence that in war the attack is not 
leveled at the real enemy is the fact that we seem never to 
know what to do with “victory . . .” Are the “liberated peo- 
ples to be shot, or all put in prison camps, or what? Is the 
national boundary to be moved? Is there to be further 
destruction of the property of the defeated? Or what? . . . 

Nor can the ideas of [Karl Marx] be destroyed today by mur- 
der or suicide of their leading exponent, or of any thousands 
or millions of the devotees. . . . Least of all can the ideas of 
Karl Marx be destroyed by murdering innocent victims of the 
form of slavery he advocated, whether they be conscripts in 
armies or victims caught in the path of battle. 11 

Harper then added that Russia was supposed to be the enemy, 
because our enemy was communism. 

n F.A. Harper, In Search of Peace (Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y.: 
Foundation for Economic Education, 1951), pp. 3, 23-25; reprinted by 
the Institute for Humane Studies, 1971. 

The Postwar Renaissance III: Libertarians and Foreign Policy 


But if it is necessary for us to embrace all these socialist-com- 
munist measures in order to fight a nation that has adopted 
them — because they have adopted these measures — why fight 
them? Why not join them in the first place and save all the 
bloodshed? . . . There is no sense in conjuring up in our 
minds a violent hatred against people who are the victims of 
communism in some foreign nation, when the same govern- 
mental shackles are making us servile to illiberal forces at 

Dean Russell, another staff member at FEE, added to the anti- 
militarist barrage. 

Those who advocate the “temporary loss” of our freedom in 
order to preserve it permanently are advocating only one 
thing: the abolition of liberty. In order to fight a form of slav- 
ery abroad, they advocate a form of bondage at home! How- 
ever good their intentions may be, these people are enemies 
of your freedom and my freedom; and I fear them far more 
than I fear any potential Russian threat to my liberty. These 
sincere but highly emotional patriots are clear and present 

threats to freedom; the Russians are still thousands of miles 


The Russians would only attack us, Russell pointed out, “for either 
of two reasons: fear of our intentions or retaliation to our acts.” 
The Russians’ fear would 

evaporate if we pulled our troops and military commitments 
back into the Western Hemisphere and kept them here. . . . 

As long as we keep troops on Russia’s borders, the Russians 
can be expected to act somewhat as we would act if Russia 
were to station troops in Guatemala or Mexico — even if those 
countries wanted the Russians to come in! 

'“Dean Russell, “The Conscription Idea,” Ideas on Liberty (May 1955): 


114 The Betrayal of the American Right 

Dean Russell concluded his critique of American foreign pol- 

I can see no more logic in fighting Russia over Korea or 
Outer Mongolia, than in fighting England over Cyprus, or 
France over Morocco. . . . The historical facts of imperialism 
and spheres of influence are not sufficient reasons to justify 
the destruction of freedom within the United States by turn- 
ing ourselves into a permanent garrison state and stationing 
conscripts all over the world. We are rapidly becoming a car- 
icature of the thing we profess to hate. 

My own reaction to the onset of the Korean War was impas- 
sioned and embittered, and I wrote a philippic to an uncompre- 
hending liberal friend which I believe holds up all too well in the 
light of the years that followed: 

I come to bury Liberty, not to praise it; how could I praise it 
when the noble Brutus — Social Democracy — has come into 
full flower? . . . What had we under the regime of Liberty? 

More or less, we had freedom to say whatever we pleased, to 
work wherever we wanted, to save and invest capital, to travel 
wherever we pleased, we had peace. These things were all very 
well in their day, but now we have Social Democracy. . . . 

Social Democracy has the draft, so all of us can fight for last- 
ing peace and democracy all over the world, rationing, price 
control, allocation . . . the labor draft, so we can all serve soci- 
ety at our best capacities, heavy taxes, inflationary finance, 
black markets . . . healthy “economic expansion.” Best of all, 
we shall have permanent war. The trouble, as we all know, 
with the previous wars is that they ended so quickly. . . . But 
now it looks as if that mistake has been rectified. We can . . . 
proclaim as our objective the occupation of Russia for twenty 
years to really educate her people in the glorious principles of 
our own Social Democracy. And if we really want to battle for 
Democracy, let’s try to occupy and educate China for a cou- 
ple of generations. That should keep us busy for a while. 

In the last war, we were hampered by a few obstruction- 
ist, isolationist, antediluvians, who resisted such salutary steps 
as a draft of all labor and capital, and total planning for mobi- 
lization by benevolent politicians, economists, and sociolo- 
gists. But under our permanent war setup, we can easily push 

The Postwar Renaissance III: Libertarians and Foreign Policy 


this program through. If anyone objects, we can accuse him 
of giving aid and comfort to the Commies. The Democrats 
have already accused the reactionary obstructionist [Senator] 
Jenner (R., Ind.) of “following the Stalinist line.” 

Yes, the obstructionists are licked. Social Democracy has 
little to fear from them. Whoever the genius was who 
thought up the permanent war idea, you’ve got to hand it to 
him. We can look forward to periods of National Unity, of a 
quintupling of the National Income, etc. There is a little fly 
in the ointment that some obstructionists may mention — the 
boys actually doing the fighting may have some objections. 
But we can correct that with a $300 billion “Truth” campaign 
headed, say, by Archibald MacLeish, so they will know what 
they are fighting for. And, we’ve got to impose equivalent 
sacrifices on the home front, so our boys will know that 
things are almost as tough at home. . . . 

There you have it. The Outlines of the Brave New 
World of Democratic Socialism. Liberty is a cheap price to 
pay. I hope you’ll like it. 13 

' 'The only response of my liberal friend was to wonder why I had 
written him a letter sounding like the statement of “some business organ- 


The Postwar Renaissance IV: 
Swansong of the Old Right 

I n addition to being staunch opponents of war and militarism, 
the Old Right of the postwar period had a rugged and near- 
libertarian honesty in domestic affairs as well. When a nation- 
wide railroad strike loomed, it was the liberal Harry Truman who 
proposed to draft the strikers into the army and force them to keep 
working, and it was Senator Taft who led the opposition to the 
move as slavery. The National Association of Manufacturers 
(NAM), in those days before big business-corporate liberalism had 
conquered it in the name of a “partnership of government and 
industry,” took a firm laissez-faire line. Its staff economist, Noel 
Sargent, was a believer in the free market, and the dean of laissez- 
faire economics, Ludwig von Mises, was one of the NAM’s con- 
sultants. In those days, NAM was largely small-business oriented, 
and indeed, various small businessmen’s organizations formed the 
business base for the organized right. Indeed, it was in the high 
places of the NAM that Robert Welch learned the anti-Establish- 
rnent views that were later to erupt into the John Birch Society. 

But even in those early days, the handwriting was on the wall for 
the NAM as a laissez-faire organization. The first great turning point 
came in the spring of 1947, after a conservative Republican majority 
had captured both houses of Congress in a mass uprising of voters 
against the Fair Deal, and partially in reaction against the power of 
labor unionism. The NAM, since the inception of the Wagner Act, 
had been pledged, year in and year out, to outright repeal of the law, 
and therefore to a repeal of the special privileges that the Wagner 



The Betrayal of the American Right 

Act gave to union organizing. When the 80th Congress opened in 
the winter of 1 946 the NAM, which now finally had its chance to 
succeed in Wagner repeal, shifted its stand in a dramatic battle, in 
which the corporate Big Business liberals defeated the old laissez- 
fairists, headed by B.E. Hutchinson of Chrysler, who was also a 
leading trustee of FEE. The NAM, on the point of a significant lais- 
sez-faire victory in labor relations, thus turned completely and 
called simply for extending the powers of the National Labor Rela- 
tions Board (NLRB) to regulate unions as well as business — a 
notion which soon took shape in the Taft-Hartley Act. It was the 
Taft-Hartley Act that completed the Wagner Act process of taming 
as well as privileging industrial unionism, and bringing the new 
union movement into the cozy junior partnership with Big Business 
and Big Government that we know so well today. Once again, Taft, 
in opposition to the purists and “extreme” Rightists in Congress, 
played a compromising role. 

One thing that the Old Right specialized in was anti-Establish- 
ment muckraking. The Hearst columns of Westbrook Pegler were 
a leading example. 1 But particularly delightful was the anti -Wall 
Street muckraking of the Chicago Tribune under Colonel 
McCormick. For the Tribune understood clearly and zeroed in on 
the Wall Street-Anglophile Establishment that ran and still runs 
this country, and was fearless in continuing exposes of this ruling 
elite. The old files of the Chicago Tribune are a rich source of infor- 
mation for the anti-Establishment historian. 2 

One example is a series of articles by William Fulton and others 
in the Tribune, from July 1 5-July 31, 1951, of what we might call 

'interestingly, every one of the delightful exposes of Franklin and 
Eleanor Roosevelt by Pegler, which caused such shock and horror among 
liberals at the time, has now turned out to be correct — with Pegler, of 
course, never receiving credit by historians for his pioneering journalism. 

2 For the only example that I know of an appreciative attitude toward 
right-wing muckraking by a New Left historian, see G. William 
Domhoff, The Higher Circles: The Governing Class in America (New York: 
Random House, 1970), pp. 281-308. 

The Postwar Renaissance IV: Swansong of the Old Right 


“Rhodes Scholar Revisionism,” in which the journalists traced the 
Rhodes Scholar Anglophile influence in the foreign policymaking 
bodies of the U.S. government. The title for the series was “Rhodes’ 
Goal: Return U.S. to British Empire.” Named as Rhodes Scholars 
were such leading American “internationalists” as Dean Rusk, 
George McGhee, Stanley K. Hornbeck, W. Walton Butterworth, 
Prof. Bernadotte E. Schmitt, Ernest A. Gross (an Oxford student, 
though not strictly a Rhodes scholar), ditto Elenry R. Luce, 
Clarence K. Streit, Frank Aydelotte, and many others, including tie- 
ins with the Council on Foreign Relations, the Carnegie and Rock- 
efeller Foundations, and the New York Times and Herald-Tribune. 

One of the most sophisticated pieces of right-wing muckraking 
in this era was undertaken by the Reece Committee of the Elouse to 
investigate tax-exempt foundations during 1953-54. Staffed by such 
leading conservatives as attorney Rene Wormser (brother of Felix E. 
Wormser, Eisenhower’s Secretary of Interior) and Norman Dodd, 
the Reece Committee zeroed in on alleged Communist and also lib- 
eral and socialist tie-ins with the large foundations: Rockefeller, 
Carnegie, Ford, etc. But, furthermore, the Committee attacked the 
large foundations for invariably sponsoring empirical and quantita- 
tively oriented studies in the social sciences and thus leading these 
disciplines into a “scientistic” promotion of technocratic and spuri- 
ous “value-freedom” to the neglect of the qualitative and the ethical. 
Here, the Reece Committee, following upon the searching critiques 
of liberal empiricism and scientism leveled by F.A. Hayek, and by the 
conservative University of Pennsylvania sociologist Albert H. 
Hobbs, hit an extremely important flaw in the new, postwar social 
science, but the committee’s insights were buried in an avalanche of 
vituperation in the Establishment press. The foundations’ man on 
the committee, obstructing its purposes and in quiet league with the 
Eisenhower White House, was Rep. Wayne Hays (D., Ohio), a Tru- 
man and later a Lyndon Johnson Democrat. ’ 

3 A valuable summary of the Committee’s work can be found in a book 
by its general counsel, Rene A. Wormser, Foundations: Their Power and 
Influence (New York: Devin-Adair, 1958). Some of Wormser’s section 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Some of the statements of maverick, antiquantitative social sci- 
entists to the committee make fascinating reading in the light of 
the rediscovery by the New Left in recent years of a critical view 
of empiricist, pseudo “value-free” social science. Thus University 
of Pennsylvania sociologist James H.S. Bossard wrote to the Reece 

For some years, I have regarded with increasing apprehen- 
sion the development of what I have called the comptometer 
school of research in social sciences. By this I mean the gath- 
ering of detailed social data and their manipulation by all the 
available statistical techniques. . . . My own interest lies more 
in the development of qualitative insights. This accords with 
my judgment of the nature of the life process, that it cannot 
be reduced to statistical formulas but that it is a richly diver- 
sified complex of relations. 4 

heads are instructive: “Politics in the Social Sciences,” “The Exclusion of 
the Dissident,” “Foundation-Fostered Scientism,” “The ‘Social 
Engineers’ and the ‘Fact-Finding Mania,’” “Mass Research-Integration 
and Conformity.” Wormser reports that the foundations were able to 
force the committee to fire two particularly knowledgeable staff members 
early in the investigation. Both of these men were libertarian-oriented: 
my friend George B. DeHuszar, close to the Chicago Tribune people; and 
the Viennese economist Dr. Karl Ettinger, friend of Ludwig von Mises. 
Ettinger’s uncompleted studies would have investigated patterns of giving 
in foundation support of colleges, as well as a survey of control of the 
learned journals as an instrument of power and their relationships with 
the foundations, and a study of the interlocks between foundations, 
research institutions, and government. For the full flavor of the Reece 
Committee, see the Hearings Before the Special Committee to Investigate Tax 
Exempt Foundations and Comparable Organizations, House of 
Representatives, 83rd Congress, 2nd session, Parts 1 and 2 (Washington, 
D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1954). For a conservative cri- 
tique of scientism in that era, see Albert H. Hobbs, Social Problems and 
Scientism (Pittsburgh: Stackpole Co., 1953). 

4 Hearings , p. 1188. 

The Postwar Renaissance IV: Swansong of the Old Right 


In a typically hard-hitting letter, Harvard sociologist Pitirim A. 
Sorokin affirmed that foundations discriminate in favor of empiri- 
cal research and “greatly discriminate against theoretical, histori- 
cal, and other forms of nonempirical research,” aided and abetted 
by discrimination on behalf of mathematical and mechanical mod- 
els, “or other imitative varieties of so-called natural science sociol- 
ogy.” The results of this social science have been in most cases 
“perfectly fruitless and almost sterile” or even in some cases, 
“rather destructive morally and mentally for this Nation .” 5 

There was in the work of the Reece Committee, however, a 
grave inner contradiction, one that in the long run was probably 
more destructive of its work than all the sniping of Wayne Hays. 
This was the fact that the conservatives and quasi-libertarians on 
the committee were wielding the coercive arm of government — 
the congressional committee — to harass private foundations . . . 
and for what reason? Largely because the foundations had 
allegedly been advocating government control over private organ- 
izations! And the Reece Committee ended by advocating govern- 
ment restrictions on the private foundations; in short, the Com- 
mittee called for further government controls over private institu- 
tions for the sin of advocating government controls over private 
institutions! The upshot was merely to launch the modern trend 
toward ever-tighter regulation of foundations, but not in any way 
to change their ideological or methodological drift. 

Another fascinating piece of combined muckraking and analysis 
in this era was a large, sprawling book by Chicago Tribune reporter 
Frank Hughes, Prejudice and the Press . 6 The Hughes book was a 
lengthy attack on the corporate-liberal “Commission” on the Free- 
dom of the Press, which had been largely financed by Henry Luce 
and was headed by Robert M. Hutchins . 7 The “Commission,” 

5 Ibid., p. 1191. Also see the remarks of Harvard sociologist Carle C. 
Zimmerman, in ibid., pp. 1193-94. 

6 (New York: Devin- Adair, 1950). 


'The private “commission” included such liberal intellectuals as 
Zechariah Chafee, Jr., William E. Hocking, Harold Lasswell, Reinhold 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

which had published its report in 1947, had called for a “free” press 
in the modern sense of being “responsible”; in contrast, Hughes 
countered with a ringing affirmation of the Bill of Rights and the 
“old-fashioned” American ideal of the freedom of the press. 
Hughes pointed out that the basic idea of modern liberals is 

to make the press “accountable” or “responsible” to society 
or the community, which . . . can only mean to government. 

... If liberty means anything at all, freedom of the press is 
freedom from the government. 8 

The great watershed, the single event that most marked the 
passing of the old isolationist Right, was the defeat of Senator Taft 
by Eisenhower in the Wall Street capture of the 1952 presidential 
nomination. With the Democrats vulnerable, 1952 was at last a 
chance for the Old Right to achieve dominance on the national 
scene. But the defeat of Taft in the outrageous Eisenhower theft of 
the nomination, coupled with the death of the great Senator the 
following year, ended the Old Right as a significant faction of the 
Republican Party. In effect, it also was to end my own identifica- 
tion with Republicanism and with the “extreme right” on the polit- 
ical spectrum. 

I had not been active in the Young Republican Club since the 
disappointment of the Dewey nomination in 1948, but I was still a 
member, and Ronnie Hertz, a libertarian friend of mine, exercised 
some clout in the club as head of its midtown luncheon commit- 
tee, to which we invited isolationist and libertarian speakers. I was 
not a Taft enthusiast on any absolute scale, because of his repeated 
compromises and “sellouts” in domestic and foreign affairs, and in 
the climactic meeting of the club that voted for the presidential 
endorsement, in which Taft won a sizable minority, Ronnie and I 
cast our two votes for Senator Everett Dirksen (R., 111.). In that 

Niebuhr, George Schuster, Robert Redfield, Charles E. Merriam, and 
Archibald MacLeish; and businessman Beardsley Ruml and counsel John 

8 Hughes, Prejudice and the Press, p. 5. 

The Postwar Renaissance IV: Swansong of the Old Right 


more innocent day, Dirksen had not yet won his stripes as the 
supreme political opportunist; instead, under the aegis of the 
Chicago Tribune, he then had a solidly “extremist” voting record, 
including one of the few votes cast against the draft. But in the 
momentous convention itself, I was of course for Taft and still 
more in opposition to the leftist — corporate liberal — Wall Street 
takeover, which conquered on the crest of an outrageous press 
campaign implying that Taft had “stolen” the Southern delega- 
tions. When Taft was cheated out of the nomination, I for one 
walked out of the Republican Party, never to return. In the elec- 
tion I supported Stevenson, largely as the only way to get the Wall 
Street incubus off the back of the Republican Party. 

It is important to note that the later, 1960s Republican right 
wing, the Goldwater-Buckley Right, had no connection with the 
old Taft Right, even organizationally. Thus, Barry Goldwater was 
himself an Eisenhower delegate from Arizona; the conservative 
warmonger Senator General Pat Hurley, was an Eisenhower man 
from New Mexico; the two doyens of the China Lobby were anti- 
Taft: Representative Walter Judd (R., Minn.) being for Eisenhower 
and Senator William Knowland (R., Calif.) being a supporter of 
Governor Earl Warren, who was decisive in throwing his support 
to Ike on the Southern delegate question. Richard Nixon was also 
instrumental in the California deal, and both Nixon and Warren 
went on to their suitable rewards. And furthermore, the famous 
Southern delegation fight was scarcely what it seemed on the sur- 
face. The Taft delegations in the South were largely Negro, hence 
their name of “Black and Tan,” and were led by the veteran black 
Republican Perry Howard of Mississippi, whereas the Eisenhower 
delegations, the representatives of the “progressive” white subur- 
banite businessmen of the Southern Republican future, were 
known quite properly as the Lilywhites. 

Meanwhile, let us note the bitter but accurate portrayal of the 
Taft defeat by Chicago Tribune reporter Chesly Manly two years 
later, as an example also of the right-wing muckraking style: 

New York banks, connected with the country’s great corpo- 
rations by financial ties and interlocking directorates, 
exerted their powerful influence on the large uncommitted 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

delegations for Eisenhower. They did it more subtly, but no 
less effectively, than in 1 940 when they captured the Repub- 
lican convention for Willkie. Having made enormous profits 
out of foreign aid and armaments orders, the bankers and 
corporation bosses understood each other perfectly. The 
Wall Street influence was most fruitful in the Pennsylvania 
delegation . . . and in that of Michigan. . . . Arthur Summer- 
field, Michigan’s national committeeman and the largest 
Chevrolet dealer in the world, was rewarded for his delivery 
of the bulk of the Michigan delegation by appointment as 
Eisenhower’s campaign manager and later as his Postmaster 
General. Charles E. Wilson, President of the General 
Motors Corporation, which had strong influence in the 
Michigan delegation, became Secretary of Defense. 
Winthrop W. Aldrich, head of the Chase National Bank and 
kinsman of the Rockefeller brothers, the front man for Wall 
Street, was in Chicago pulling wires for Eisenhower, and his 
labors paid off with an appointment as ambassador to Great 

With the election of Eisenhower, the old right wing of the 
Republican Party began to fade out of the picture. But Senator 
Taft had one final moment of glory. In the last speech on foreign 
policy delivered before his death, Taft attacked the foreign policy 
hegemony beginning to be exercised by Secretary of State John 
Foster Dulles, 10 the epitome of global warmongering and anti- 
Communism, the man who hailed from the top Wall Street law 
firm of Sullivan and Cromwell and was a long-time counsel for 
the Rockefeller interests. In this speech, delivered on May 26, 
1953, Taft leveled at the Dulles policies the same criticism he had 
made against the similar policies of Harry Truman: the system of 
worldwide military alliances and aid was “the complete antithesis 

; Chesly Manly, The Twenty-Year Revolution : From Roosevelt to 
Eisenhower (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1954), pp. 20-21. 

10 The Dulles family stain on American foreign policy included John 
Foster’s brother Allen, who headed the CIA, and his sister Eleanor, at the 
Asia desk of the State Department. 

The Postwar Renaissance IV: Swansong of the Old Right 


of the UN Charter,” a threat to Russian and Chinese security, and 
furthermore valueless for the defense of the United States. 

Taft in particular centered his fire on Dulles’s nascent policy in 
Southeast Asia. He was especially concerned because the United 
States was increasing to 70 percent its support of the costs of the 
fight of the French puppet regime in Indo-China against the rev- 
olutionary forces of Ho Chi Minh. Taft feared — with great pre- 
science! — that Dulles’s policy, upon the inevitable defeat of French 
imperialism in Indo-China, would lead to its eventual replacement 
by American imperialism, and — to Taft the worst of all possibili- 
ties — the sending of American forces to Vietnam to fight the guer- 

Declared Taft: 

I have never felt that we should send American soldiers to the 
Continent of Asia, which, of course, included China proper 
and Indo-China, simply because we are so outnumbered in 
fighting a land war on the Continent of Asia that it would 
bring about complete exhaustion even if we were able to win. 

... So today, as since 1947 in Europe and 1950 in Asia, we 
are really trying to arm the world against Communist Russia, 
or at least furnish all the assistance which can be of use to 
them in opposing Communism. 

Is this policy of uniting the free world against Commu- 
nism in time of peace going to be a practical long-term pol- 
icy? I have always been a skeptic on the subject of the mili- 
tary practicability of NATO. ... I have always felt that we 
should not attempt to fight Russia on the ground on the Con- 
tinent of Europe any more than we should attempt to fight 
China on the Continent of Asia. 11 

In the months immediately following Taft’s death, American 
support of the French armies and of its puppet government in 

1 1 Robert A. Taft, “United States Foreign Policy: Forget United 
Nations in Korea and Far East,” Vital Speeches 19, no. 17 (June 15, 1953): 
530-31. Also see Eeonard P. Eiggio, “Why the Futile Crusade?” Left and 
Right 1, no. 1 (Spring, 1965): 60-62. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Vietnam was greatly increased by Dulles, but while Dulles and 
Nixon urged American bombing of Ho Chi Minh’s forces, Eisen- 
hower himself, who had been greatly influenced by his brief but 
deep association with Taft during and after the 1952 campaign, lis- 
tened to such Taft supporters in his cabinet as George Humphrey 
and decided not to use American forces directly in Vietnam with- 
out the prior consent of Congress. By following this Taftian prin- 
ciple, the Eisenhower administration allowed the Great Debate in 
the Senate, as well as the opposition of Great Britain, to block it 
from an immediate Vietnam adventure. The ex-isolationist 
Alexander Wiley (R., Wis.) summed up the feelings of the major- 
ity of Senate Republicans when he declared: “If war comes under 
this administration, it could well be the end of the Republican 
Party.” And Senator Lyndon B. Johnson (D., Tex.) summed up the 
view of the Democrats by saying that he was opposed to “sending 
American GIs into the mud and muck of Indochina on a blood-let- 
ting spree to perpetuate colonialism and white man’s exploitation 
in Asia.” 12 

As a result of these pressures, and in defiance of Dulles, Nixon, 
and the Pentagon, President Eisenhower moved toward the 
Geneva Agreement of 1954; all-out American intervention in Viet- 
nam was mercifully postponed, though unfortunately not perma- 
nently abandoned. In death, Senator Robert Taft’s influence on 
American foreign policy was greater, at least for the moment, than 
it had ever been in life. 

'“Bernard B. Fall, The Two Viet-Na?//s (N ew York: Frederick A. 
Praeger, 1963), pp. 227-28. Also see Liggio, “Why the Futile Crusade?” 

p. 62. 


Decline of the Old Right 

A fter the death of Taft and as the Eisenhower foreign policy 
began to take on the frozen Dullesian lineaments of per- 
manent mass armament and the threat of “massive nuclear 
retaliation” throughout the globe, I began to notice isolationist 
sentiment starting to fade away, even among old libertarian and 
isolationist compatriots who should have known better. Old 
friends who used to scoff at the “Russian threat” and had declared 
The Enemy to be Washington, D.C. now began to mutter about 
the “international Communist conspiracy.” I noticed that young 
libertarians coming into the ranks were increasingly infected with 
the Cold War mentality and had never even heard of the isola- 
tionist alternative. Young libertarians wondered how it was that I 
upheld a “Communist foreign policy.” 

In this emerging atmosphere, novelist Louis Bromfield’s non- 
fiction work of 1954, A New Pattern for a Tired World / a hard-hit- 
ting tract on behalf of free-market capitalism and a peaceful for- 
eign policy, began to seem anachronistic and had almost no impact 
on the right wing of the day. 

Bromfield charged: 

Aside from the tragic drain on our youth, whether drafted for 
two of the best years of their lives or maimed or killed or 
imprisoned, the grandiose “containment” policy means an 
immense and constant drain in terms of money. . . . 

'(New York: Harper and Bros., 1954). 



The Betrayal of the American Right 

And further: 

One of the great failures of our foreign policy throughout the 
world arises from the fact that we have permitted ourselves to 
be identified everywhere with the old, doomed and rotting 
colonial-imperialist small European nations which once 
imposed upon so much of the world the pattern of exploita- 
tion and economic and political domination. This fact lies at 
the core of our failure to win the support and trust of the 
once-exploited nations and peoples who are now in rebellion 
and revolution in all parts of the world but especially in Asia. 
We have not given these peoples a real choice between the 
practices of Russian Communist imperialism or Communism 
and those of a truly democratic world in which individualism, 
American capitalism and free enterprise are the very pillars of 
independence, solid economics, liberty and good living stan- 
dards. We have appeared to these peoples themselves ... in 
the role of colonial imperialists . . . and of supporters in 
almost every case of the rotting old European empires. . . . 

None of these rebellious, awakening peoples will, in their 
hearts or even superficially, trust us or cooperate in any way 
so long as we remain identified with the economic colonial 
system of Europe; which represents, even in its capitalist pat- 
tern, the last remnants of feudalism. . . . We cannot appear to 
these Asiatic peoples in the role of friend and benefactor 
while we are at the same time financing, attempting to 
restore to power and even providing arms to the very forces 
of the dying colonial empires, against which they are in rebel- 

This is exactly what we are doing in Indo-China and in 
Elong Kong and elsewhere in the world under a confused 
policy based upon the doomed past rather than upon the 
inevitable dynamic pattern of the future. We leave these 
awakening peoples with no choice but to turn to Russian and 
Communist comfort and promises of Utopia. We make it 
possible everywhere . . . for the Communists ... to create the 
impression that what in fact is merely an intense assertion of 
nationalism is really a Communist liberation, planned and 
carried out by Communist influence. . . . 

We are playing the politics of a vanished world, blindly 
and stupidly attempting to surround and contain what can 
not be contained, blocking the free exchange of goods and 

Decline of the Old Right 


keeping the world in a constant uproar by making alliances 
and setting up military installations everywhere. It is an 
antique pattern of power politics. 2 

Again on Asia: 

The battle in Indo-China engages . . . countless Indo-Chi- 
nese . . . who hate French domination. . . . Yet there are even 
those, principally in armed forces of the U.S., who would, if 
they dared, advocate drafting American boys from Ohio, 
Iowa, Kansas and elsewhere and sending them into this strug- 
gle where they or the nation itself have no proper place and 
where our intervention can only serve to do us tragic harm in 
the long run. . . . 

[Korea] may well prove to be not the martyred heroic 
nation which the sentimental have made of her, but merely 
the albatross around our neck which can carry us deeper and 
deeper into tragic complications and future wars. Because we 
have no real reason to be in Korea, unless, as every Asiatic 
suspects, for reasons of power and exploitation. To say that a 
country so remote and insignificant as Korea is our first line 
of defense is to say that every nation in every part of the 
world is also our “first line of defense” — a conception which 
is obviously fantastic and grotesque to the borders of mega- 
lomania. . . . 

Our permanent occupation of Korea in order to maintain 
her economic and political independence artificially is an act 
against the whole trend of world revolution and the irre- 
sistible forces of our times. . . . We must stay in Korea indef- 
initely and eventually retire and accept defeat or involve our- 
selves and the world in a war which may well be for us and 
will be certainly for all Europe the end of the road. . . . The 
Korean situation . . . will not be settled until we withdraw 
entirely from an area in which we have no right to be and 
leave the peoples of that area to work out their own prob- 
lems. 3 

2 Louis Bromfleld, A New Pattern for a Tired World (New York: Harper 
and Bros., 1954), pp. 49-55. 

3 Ibid., pp. 60-63. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Bromfield concluded that the whole of our foreign policy was not 
“worth the torture or the life of one unwilling conscript, even if it 
were not the most dangerous and destructive of policies to the 
peace and welfare of the world.” 4 

In this period of slippage of devotion to peace, in a right wing 
on which the Bromfield book made little impact, I determined to 
try to reaffirm the older foreign policy tradition in the conserva- 
tive-libertarian movement. In April 1954, William Johnson put 
together an all-isolationist, all-peace issue of Faith and Freedom 
that was one of the last intellectual gasps of the isolationist-liber- 
tarian Right. The issue included an article by Garet Garrett, “The 
Suicidal Impulse,” which continued his analysis of “The Rise of 
Empire.” Garrett declared that the American Empire had built up 
“the most terrible killing machine mankind had ever known,” that 
we were brandishing our “immense stock of atomic bombs,” that 
there were American troops and air bases throughout the globe, 
and that there was “from time to time a statement from an eminent 
American military person saying the American Air Force is pre- 
pared to drop bombs in Russia with the greatest of ease, on targets 
already selected.” Garrett concluded that the “allure of world lead- 
ership weaves a fatal spell. The idea of imposing universal peace on 
the world by force is a barbarian fantasy.” 5 

Also included in the Faith and Freedom issue was Ernest T. Weir, 
the right-wing union-busting industrialist of the 1930s, World 
War II isolationist, and head of the National Steel Corporation of 
Pittsburgh. Weir, the Cyrus Eaton of the 1950s, had been stump- 
ing the country and publishing pamphlets calling for a negotiated 
peace with the Soviet Union and Communist China and an end to 
the Cold War. In his article, “Leaving Emotions Out of Foreign 
Policy,” Weir declared that 

we have to accept the fact that it is not the mission of the 

United States to go charging about the world to free it from 

4 Ibid., p. 75. 

5 Garet Garrett, “The Suicidal Impulse,” Faith and Freedom 5, no. 8 
(April 1954): 6. 

Decline of the Old Right 


bad nations and bad systems of government. We must recon- 
cile ourselves to the fact that there will always be bad nations 
and bad systems and that our task is to contrive some basis 
other than warfare on which we can live in the world. 6 7 

My own contribution to the issue was “The Real Aggressor,” 
under the noon de plume of “Aubrey Herbert,” in which I tried to 
establish a libertarian basis for an isolationist and peaceful foreign 
policy, and called for peaceful coexistence, joint disarmament, 
withdrawal from NATO and the UN, and recognition of Com- 
munist China, as well as free trade with all countries. 

For our pains, both Mr. Weir and I were red-baited in the 
Social Democratic New Leader by William Henry Chamberlin. 
The fact of Chamberlin’s growing influence on the intellectual 
Right was symptomatic of its accelerating decay. A former Com- 
munist fellow-traveler in the 1930s, Chamberlin seemed able to 
shift his principles at will, writing assiduously for both the Wall 
Street Journal and the New Leader, supporting free-market eco- 
nomics in the former publication and statism in the latter. He was 
also capable of writing a book' praising isolationism and the 
Munich pact for World War II, while at the same time denounc- 
ing present-day isolationists and opponents of the Cold War as 
“appeasers” and proponents of “another Munich.” But in one 
sense this new Chamberlin was consistent; for he was one of that 
growing legion of ex-Communist and ex-fellow traveler journalists 
who spearheaded the ideological front for the Cold War and the 
world anti-Communist crusade. In his article “Appeasement on 
the Right,” 8 Chamberlin charged that Weir’s article “could have 
appeared in the Nation, perhaps even in Masses and Mainstream as 

6 Ernest T. Weir, “Leaving Emotions Out of Our Foreign Policy,” 
ibid., p. 8. 


'William Henry Chamberlin, America's Second Crusade (Chicago: 
Henry Regnery, 1950). 

8 William Henry Chamberlin, “Appeasement on the Right,” New 
Leader (May 17, 1954). 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

for my article, I had laid “down a blueprint for America policy tai- 
lor-made to the specifications of the Kremlin.” 

It was the first time that I had ever been red-baited, though it 
was not to be the last, and to a professed “extreme right winger” 
this charge was something of a shock. When I replied in the New 
Leader and noted that Chamberlin himself had hailed appeasement 
and Munich a short while before, Chamberlin responded in char- 
acteristic fashion: that Ernest Weir had been recently hailed in the 
Warsaw Trybuna Ludu, and that perhaps I would soon “receive 
[my] appropriate recognition from the same or a similar source.” 9 

Soon afterward, I signed on to replace Chodorov as monthly 
Washington columnist of Faith and Freedom, and month in and 
month out, until the end of 1956, I hammered away at the statism 
of the Eisenhower administration. Troubled at the growing adher- 
ence to militarism and the Cold War on the right wing, I particu- 
larly blasted away at these trends. While calling for withdrawal 
from the United Nations, I urged that it recognize reality and 
admit China to membership; calling for neutralism and isolation- 
ism, I expressed the hope for neutralism abroad and a neutralist 
and peacefully reunified Germany; attacking permanent expansion 
of the United States beyond our shores, I called for granting 
Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico their independence instead of 
incorporating them as permanent states. In early 1956, I attacked 
the Eisenhower administration for torpedoing the second Geneva 
conference and its hopes for detente and disarmament: first, by 
presenting a demand for German reunification under NATO as 

; Ibid., p. 21; letter from Aubrey Herbert and reply by Chamberlin, 
ibid., June 21, 1954, p. 29. As far as I know, the Polish accolade never 
came. As for the demoralized and bleeding domestic Left, one of the few 
pieces of recognition of the anti-imperialist Right was in the New York 
Compass of January 2, 1952, seconded by the National Guardian of January 
9, 1953, both of which praised an excellent article by Caret Garrett in the 
Wall Street Journal. Garrett had attacked the bipartisan imperialist foreign 
policy and denounced all the presidential candidates, including Taft, for 
supporting it. 

Decline of the Old Right 


our prime demand at the conference; and second, by withdrawing 
our longstanding demand for simultaneous disarmament and 
inspection as soon as the Russians had agreed to our own position, 
and later substituting instead Ike’s demagogic proposal for “open 
skies.” A few months later, I sharply criticized the Right for spring- 
ing to the defense of the Marine drill instructor who brutally 
ordered six men to watery graves in a senseless death march at Par- 
ris Island. How is it, I asked, that only the left-liberals had risen to 
champion freedom against brutality and militarism? 

My most severe tangle with the pro-war Right came in a series 
of debates in early 1955 on whether or not to fight for Formosa, a 
question which loomed large in that year. 

In my March column I called for withdrawal from Formosa, 
attacked the manic logic which demanded an endless series of 
bases to “protect our previous bases,” and asked how we would feel 
if the Chinese were occupying and fortifying an island three miles 
off our coast? Furthermore, I hailed the call for peace recently 
delivered by the hero of the war right, Douglas MacArthur, and 
also praised Rep. Eugene R. Siler (R., Ky.) for picking up the old 
isolationist baton and voting against the blank-check congressional 
resolution of January 29 on Formosa because he had promised his 
constituents that he would never help to “engage their boys in war 
on foreign soil.” 

This article precipitated a debate with a fellow columnist on 
Faith and Freedom, William S. Schlamm, another leader of the new 
trends on the right wing, and formerly book review editor of the 
then-major intellectual right-wing magazine, the Freeman. 
Schlamm was typical of the New Rightist: formerly a leading Ger- 
man Communist and editor of Die Rote Fahne, Schlamm was now 
dedicating his career to whipping up enthusiasm for the crushing 
of his old comrades, at home and abroad. In his zeal for the world 
anti-Communist crusade, I could never — and still cannot — detect 
one iota of devotion to freedom in Schlamm’s worldview. What 
was he doing on Faith and Freedom to begin with? Wlien National 
Review was founded in late 1955, Schlamm became its book review 
editor and, for a while, its chief theoretician; later he was to return 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

to Germany and gain a large popular following for an ultra-hard- 
line foreign policy against the East. 

Schlamm and I had a series of two debates — “Fight for For- 
mosa — or Not?” — in the May and June issues of Faith and Freedom. 
I accused him of advocating preventive war, and reminded our 
readers that we had not been attacked by either Russia or China, 
and that a world war would mean the total destruction of civiliza- 
tion. And why, I asked, as I had before in those columns, do the 
pro-war conservatives, supposedly dedicated to the superiority of 
capitalism over Communism, by thirsting for an immediate show- 
down, implicitly grant that time is on the side of the Communist 
system? I then reaffirmed that surely any libertarian must hold 
“the enemy” to be not Russian Communism but any invasion of 
our liberty by the State; to give up our freedom in order to “pre- 
serve” it is only succumbing to the Orwellian dialectic that “free- 
dom is slavery.” As for Schlannn’s position that we had already 
been “attacked” by Communism, I pointed out the crucial distinc- 
tion between military and “ideological” attack, a distinction to 
which the libertarian, with his entire philosophy resting on the dif- 
ference between violent aggression and nonviolent persuasion, 
should be particularly attuned. My puzzlement should have been 
solved by realizing that Mr. Schlamm was the furthest thing from 
a “libertarian.” I also called for realistic negotiations with the 
Communist world, which would result in mutual atomic and bac- 
teriological disarmament. 

More important in trying to stem the efforts of the war crowd to 
take over the Right was the redoubtable Frank Chodorov. It turned 
out to be a tragedy for the libertarian cause that Frank had liqui- 
dated his magnificent analysis in the early 1950s and merged it into 
Human Events, where he then served as an associate editor. Frank 
was also my predecessor as Washington columnist of Faith and 
Freedom. In the summer of 1954, Frank took up the editorship of 
the Freeman , the leading organ of the intellectual Right, previously 
a weekly and by this time reduced to a monthly issued by the Foun- 
dation for Economic Education. In his September Freeman edito- 
rial (“The Return of 1940?”) Chodorov proclaimed that the old iso- 
lationist-interventionist split among conservatives and libertarians 

Decline of the Old Right 


was once again coining into play. “Already the libertarians are 
debating among themselves on the need of putting off the struggle 
for freedom until after the threat of communism, Moscow style, 
shall have been removed, even by war.” Frank pointed out the con- 
sequences of our entry into World War II: a massive debt burden, 
a gigantic tax structure, a permanent incubus of conscription, an 
enormous federal bureaucracy, the loss of our sense of personal 
freedom and independence. “All this,” Frank concluded, 

the “isolationists” of 1940 foresaw. Not because they were 
endowed with any gift of prevision, but because they knew 
history and would not deny its lesson: that during war the 
State acquires power at the expense of freedom, and that 
because of its insatiable lust for power the State is incapable 
of giving up any of it. The State never abdicates. 10 

Any further war would be infinitely worse, and perhaps destroy the 
world in the process. 

Chodorov’s editorial drew a rebuttal from the indefatigable 
Willi Schlamm, and the two debated the war question in the pages 
of the November 1954 Freeman. Chodorov’s rebuttal, “A War to 
Communize America,” was his last great reaffirmation of the iso- 
lationist Old Right position. Chodorov began, 

We are again being told to be afraid. As it was before the two 
world wars so it is now; politicians talk in frightening terms, 
journalists invent scare-lines, and even next-door neighbors 
are taking up the cry: the enemy is at the city gates; we must 
gird for battle. In case you don’t know, the enemy this time is 
the U.S.S.R. 11 

Chodorov centered on the question of conscription, since “to fight 
a war with Russia on foreign soil,” the interventionists conceded, 
required this form of slavery. “I don’t think a single division could 

10 Frank Chodorov, “The Return of 1940?” Freeman (September 
1954): 81. 

n Frank Chodorov, “A War to Communize America,” Freeman 
(November 1954): 171. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

have been raised by the volunteer system for the Korean adven- 
ture.” And if the American people do not want to fight in such 
wars, by what right are they to be “compelled to fight them?” And: 
“We are told that we must fear the Russians. I am more afraid of 
those who, like their forebears, would compel us against our will to 
fight the Russians. They have the dictator complex.” 12 Chodorov 
then reiterated that any further war would end whatever liberty we 
had, that slavery to an American master was no better than slavery 
to some foreign master: “Why go to war for [the] privilege” of 
choosing one or the other? As for ourselves being invaded, there 
was no real possibility of such a thing happening. The only thing 
we had to fear in the current situation was “the hysteria of fear” 
itself. The only way to remove this fear on both sides, Chodorov 
concluded, was for us to “abandon our global military commit- 
ments” and return home. 

As for the alleged Russian threat to Western Europe if we 
should withdraw, “it would be hard on the Europeans if they fell 
into Soviet hands; but not any worse than if we precipitated a war 
in which their homes became the battlefield.” 13 And if these coun- 
tries do, in fact, desire communism, then “our presence in Europe 
is an impertinent interference with the internal affairs of these 
countries; let them go communist if they want to.” 14 

Unfortunately, shortly afterward Chodorov was ousted as edi- 
tor; a man of stubborn independence and integrity, Chodorov 
would not submit to any form of mental castration. With 
Chodorov gone, Leonard Read could return to his long-standing 
policy of never engaging in direct political or ideological contro- 
versy, and the Freeman proceeded to sink into the slough of 
innocuous desuetude in which it remains today. Chodorov was 
now deprived of a libertarian outlet, his great voice was stilled; and 
this loss was made final by the tragic illness that struck in 1961 and 
in which Frank spent the last years of his life. Aggravating the 

12 Ibid., p. 172. 
13 Ibid., p. 174. 
14 Ibid., p. 173 

Decline of the Old Right 


tragedy was his ideological betrayal by close friends such as young 
William F. Buckley, whom Frank had discovered as a writer while 
editing Human Events (and who in a recent “Firing Line” exchange 
with Karl Hess dared to bring up the name of the dead Chodorov 
as a libertarian sanction for his own pro-war stance). Even more 
poignant is the history of the Intercollegiate Society of Individual- 
ists, which Frank had founded in 1952 as a “fifty-year project” to 
win the college campuses away from statism and toward individu- 
alism. In 1956, ISI left FEE’s offices to take up headquarters in 
Philadelphia. Frank’s selection to succeed him as head of ISI, E. 
Victor Milione, has since taken ISI squarely into the traditionalist- 
conservative camp, even to the extent — at about the time of 
Frank’s death in late 1966 — of changing the name of Chodorov’s 
brainchild to the “Intercollegiate Studies Institute.” It seems that 
the name “individualist” was upsetting conservative businessmen, 
to whom it conjured up visions of the rebels of the New Left. Oh, 
liberty! What crimes are committed in thy name! 15 

Another grave blow to isolationism and the Old Right was the 
loss of Human Events. From the beginning, the three owners of 
Human Events had been Felix Morley, the theoretician; Frank 
Hanighen, the journalist; and Henry Regnery, the financial sup- 
porter. Before and during World War II, all had been isolationists, 
but after the war Hanighen, followed by Regnery, began to jump 
on the anti-Communist and pro-interventionist bandwagon, much 
to the resistance of Morley. Morley, who in his autobiography paid 
high tribute to the influence of Nock, scoffed at his colleagues’ 
emphasis on the Hiss case. Once Franklin Roosevelt, guided by 
Harry Hopkins, had brought about a “Communist victory,” 

' ’The idea of the name change originated in the fall of 1960 with Bill 
Buckley, but Chodorov never accepted the change. It took until near the 
point of Chodorov’s death that Milione was willing to make the break, 
and thereby symbolize another takeover by the Buckleyite New Right. 
George H. Nash, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 
1945 (N ew York: Basic Books, 1976), p. 390. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

declared Morley, “it seemed silly to bother about the hole-and- 
corner machinations of a few fellow-travelers as accused commu- 
nist turncoats.” In addition to ideology, Hanighen was particularly 
motivated by moolah: Hanighen 

believed that the Hiss case would prove sensational, as indeed 
it did, and that we could greatly increase our circulation by 
exploiting it, as also Senator McCarthy’s sweeping charges. 

He was probably right, since after I left it the little publica- 
tion grew rabidly by climbing aboard the anti-Communist 

Finally, the split came in February 1950, over Hanighen’s insis- 
tence that Human Events go all-out in support of American inter- 
vention in behalf of Chiang Kai-shek’s regime now holed up in 
Taiwan. Regnery sided with Hanighen, and so Morley was bought 
out by his partners. Looking back on this forced separation Mor- 
ley concluded: 

In retrospect I see this episode as symptomatic of that which 
has come to divide the conservative movement in the United 
States. Frank and Henry, in their separate ways, moved on to 
associate with the far Right in the Republican Party. My posi- 
tion remained essentially “Libertarian,” though it is with 
great reluctance that I yield the old terminology of “liberal” 
to the socialists. I was, and continue to be, strongly opposed 
to centralization of political power, thinking that this process 
will eventually destroy our federal republic, if it has not 
already done so. The vestment of power in HEW [the 
Department of Health, Education and Welfare] is demon- 
strably bad, but its concentration in the Pentagon and CIA is 
worse because the authority is often concealed and covertly 

16 Felix Morley, For the Record (South Bend, Ind.: Regnery Gateway, 
1979), p. 430. In a rather sharper and less mellow account of the break 
written for a 3 0th- anniversary celebration of Hitman Events, Morley 
wrote that Hanighen was beginning to consider him “soft on 
Communism.” Felix Morley, “The Early Days of Hitman Events ,” Human 
Events (April 27, 1974): 26, 28, 31. Cited in Nash, Conservative Intellectual 
Movement, pp. 124-25. 

Decline of the Old Right 


exercised. Failure to check either extreme means continuous 
deficit financing and consequent inflation which in time can 
be fatal to the free enterprise system. 17 

Morley, a friend of Bob Taft, had been slated for a high appoint- 
ment in the State Department if Taft had become President in 
1953; but it was not to be. 

But by the mid-1950s the battle for Old Right isolationism had 
not yet been completely lost. Thus, at the end of 1955, For Amer- 
ica, a leading right-wing political action group headed by Notre 
Dame Law School Dean Clarence Manion, issued its political plat- 
form. Two of its major foreign policy planks were “Abolish Con- 
scription” and “Enter No Foreign Wars unless the safety of the 
United States is directly threatened.” Not a word about liberating 
Communist countries, or about stopping Communism all over the 
world. As for our small libertarian group, right-wing anarchists 
Robert LeFevre and Thaddeus Ashby were able to gain control, 
for a short but glorious time, of the right-wing Congress of Free- 
dom, headed by Washingtonian Arnold Kruckman. On April 24, 
1954, LeFevre and Ashby managed to push through the Congress 
a libertarian platform, specifically calling for the abolition of con- 
scription, the “severing our entangling alliance with foreign 
nations,” and the abolition of all foreign aid. The platform 
declared: “We decry the war we have lost in Korea and we will 
oppose American intervention in the war in Indochina.” More 
orthodox rightists, however, managed to regain control of the 
Congress the following year. 

The last great political gasp of the isolationist Right came in 
the fight for the Bricker Amendment, the major foreign-policy 
plan of the conservative Republicans during the first Eisenhower 
term. Senator John W. Bricker (R., Ohio) had been the ill-fated 
right-wing candidate for president in 1948, and was Taft’s natural 


Morley, For the Record, p. 437. Morley pays tribute to the fact that 
Regnery, despite these criticisms, was happy to publish his book. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

successor after the death of his fellow Ohioan. The Bricker Amend- 
ment to the Constitution was designed to prevent the threat of 
international treaties and executive agreements becoming the 
supreme law of the land and overriding previous internal law or pro- 
visions of the Constitution. It provided that no treaty or executive 
agreement conflicting with, or not made in pursuance of, the Con- 
stitution, shall have any force; and that no such treaty or executive 
agreement shall become effective as internal law except by domestic 
legislation that would have been valid in the absence of the agree- 
ment. Favoring the Amendment were a battery of right-wing 
groups: veterans and patriotic organizations, the American Farm 
Bureau Federation, the Chamber of Commerce, Pro America, the 
National Small Business Association, the Conference of Small Busi- 
ness Organizations, Merwin K. Hart’s National Economic Council, 
the Committee for Constitutional Government, Rev. Fifield’s Free- 
dom Clubs, Inc., and large chunks of the American Bar Association. 
The major opponent of the Amendment was the Eisenhower 
administration, in particular Secretary of State Dulles and Attorney 
General Herbert Brownell, ably seconded by the forces of organized 
liberalism: the Americans for Democratic Action, the AFL, B’nai 
B’rith, the American Jewish Congress, the American Association for 
the United Nations, and the United World Federalists. 

The climactic vote on the Bricker Amendment came in the 
U.S. Senate in February 1954, the Amendment going down to a 
severe defeat. While the overwhelming majority of right-wing 
Republicans voted for the Amendment, there were some signifi- 
cant defections, including William Knowland and Alexander 
Wiley (R., Wis.), a former isolationist who was playing the iniqui- 
tous “Vandenberg role” as Chairman of the Foreign Relations 
Committee in what might well have been the last Republican-con- 
trolled Senate. 18 


On the Bricker Amendment struggle, see Frank E. Holman, Story 
of the “'Bricker” Amendment (The First Phase) (New York: Committee for 
Constitutional Government, 1954). Holman, a past president of the 
American Bar Association, was a leader in the forces for the amend- 
ment. Included as appendices to the book were pro-Bricker 

Decline of the Old Right 


It is indicative of the later decline of the Old Right that the 
Bricker Amendment was to race away and disappear totally in 
right-wing councils, never to be heard from again. In particular, the 
New Right, which began to emerge in force after 1955, was able to 
bury the Bricker Amendment, as well as the isolationist sentiment 
that it embodied, in some form of Orwellian “memory hole.” 

If the Bricker Amendment was the last isolationist pressure 
campaign of the Old Right, the third-party ticket of 1956 was its last 
direct political embodiment. I had been yearning for an Old Right 
third party ever since the disgraceful Republican convention of 
1952, and some Tafdtes tried to launch a Constitution Party, nomi- 
nating Douglas MacArthur that very fall, only to lament that there 
was not enough time, and that 1956 would be the Year. Third-party 
discussions and movements by disgruntled Old Rightists began in 
late 1955, and numerous conservative, Constitution, and “New” 
Parties sprang up in various states. But there was precious little 
organization or money or political savvy in these attempts, and none 
of the top right-wing leaders endorsed their efforts. 

I myself was involved in two third-party attempts in New York, 
a minuscule Constitution Party and a larger Independent Party, 
headed by an elderly man named Dan Sawyer. I vividly remember 
a good-sized rally held by the Independents in early 1956. One fea- 
tured speaker was Kent Courtney of New Orleans, who with his 
wife, Phoebe, was the main founder of the new party. A particular 
feature was a colorful old gent, whose name escapes me, looking 
like a stereotyped Kentucky colonel, who limped his way to the 
stand. The Colonel, for such I believe he was, though from Texas, 
proclaimed that he was an unsung founder of the science of public 
opinion polling, and that he had been President Coolidge’s opinion 
poll adviser. (And had Hoover only listened to him! . . .) At any 
rate, the Colonel assured us, from the very depths of his public 
opinion know-how, that any Democrat was certain to defeat Eisen- 
hower in the 1956 election. Such was the acumen of the third-party 

Amendment statements by the veteran individualist and isolationist 
Samuel Pettingill, Clarence Manion, Caret Garrett, and Frank 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

leadership. Unsurprisingly, the Independent Party of New York held 
no further meetings. 

The Constitution Party of New York was even shorter lived. 
Again, I attended only one “mass” meeting, presided over by a 
young lawyer named Ed Scharfenberger in a tiny Manhattan 
restaurant. Scharfenberger gave me to understand that I could help 
write the platform of the party, but something told me that the 
party was not long for this world. The Constitution Party’s great 
talking point was its connection with a mini-network of Constitu- 
tion groups headed by the party in Texas, which actually got on the 
ballot and ran some candidates. 

My own personal candidate for president in 1956 was Gover- 
nor Bracken Lee of Utah, who was certainly the closest thing to a 
libertarian in political life. There were indeed few other governors 
who advocated repeal of the income tax, sold state colleges to pri- 
vate enterprise, refused Federal grants-in-aid for highways, 
denounced social security, urged withdrawal from the UN, or pro- 
claimed foreign aid to be unconstitutional. 

In fact, a third party did get underway, but once again it began 
very late, in mid-September of the election year, and so could get 
on the ballot in only a few states. The New Party, in a States’ 
Rights Convention, nominated T. Coleman Andrews of Virginia 
for president, and former Representative Thomas H. Werdel (R., 
Calif.) for vice president. Andrews had made himself an antitax 
hero by serving for several years as Eisenhower’s Commissioner of 
Internal Revenue, and then resigning to stump the country for 
repeal of the Sixteenth (income tax) Amendment. I firmly sup- 
ported the Andrews-Werdel ticket, not the least of whose charms 
was the absence of any call for a worldwide anti-Communist cru- 
sade. The Bricker Amendment, opposition to foreign aid, and 
withdrawal from the UN was the extent of their foreign affairs 
program, and the same in fact could be said about the Constitution 
parties. Andrews-Werdel reached their peak in Virginia and 
Louisiana, where they polled about 7 percent of the vote, carrying 
one county — Prince Edward in Virginia — while J. Bracken Lee 
collected over 100,000 votes in Utah in an independent race for 
president in his home state. 

Decline of the Old Right 


While I supported Andrews-Werdel, I made clear to my Faith 
and Freedom readers that between the two major candidates I favored 
Adlai Stevenson. The major motive was not, as in 1952, to punish 
the left Republicans for taking over the party. Presaging my later 
political career, my major reason was the decidedly more pro-peace 
stand that Stevenson was taking: specifically in his call for abolition 
of testing of H-bombs as well as his suggestion that we abolish the 
draft. This was enough to push me in a Stevensonian direction. 

Soon after the election, Bill Johnson, who had always com- 
mended my columns, flew East to inform me that I was being 
dumped as Washington columnist. Why? Because his Protestant 
minister readership had come to the conclusion that I was a “Com- 
munist.” Red-baiting again, and this time from “libertarians”! I 
protested that, month in and month out, I had consistently 
attacked government and defended the individual; how could this 
possibly be “Communist”? The lines were tightening. Faith and 
Freedom itself collapsed shortly thereafter (not, I must hasten to 
add, because of my dismissal). Bill Johnson went on to join Dick 
Cornuelle in the Volker Fund operation. 

The demise of Faith and Freedom, and of its controlling organ- 
ization, Spiritual Mobilization (SM), was symptomatic of the griev- 
ous decline of the libertarian wing of the Old Right in the latter half 
of the 1950s. In the midst of libertarianism’s — and the Old 
Right’s — gravest crisis since World War II, Spiritual Mobilization, 
instead of providing leadership in these stormy times, turned 
toward what can only be called neo-Buddhist mystical gabble. In 
the mid-1950s, the Reverend Fifield had turned over day-to-day 
operation of SM to Jim Ingebretsen, a libertarian and old friend of 
Feonard Read who had been an official with the Chamber of Com- 
merce. No sooner did he assume the reins of SM, however, than 
he — and the rest of the influential SM group — fell under the charis- 
matic influence of the gnomic English neo-Buddhist mystic, Ger- 
ald Heard. Heard, who liked to think of his murky lucubrations as 
the requirements of “science,” had already converted Aldous Hux- 
ley and Christopher Isherwood to Heardian mysticism (it was 
Heard who had provided the model for the guru who converted 
Huxley’s sophisticated hero to mysticism in Eyeless in Gaza). Heard 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

had set up shop in a retreat provided by a businessman patron in an 
estate called Idyllwild in the Los Angeles area; and there he organ- 
ized retreats for all the once-active libertarian Old Right business- 
men. In particular, Heard, blathering about the “Growing Edge” 
and the paranormal, organized mystical sessions which included 
experiments in hallucinogenic “mad mushrooms” and even LSD. It 
is fascinating that Heard and his crew were proto-Timothy Leary 
types — an incongruous leap into a genteel but highly debilitating 
form of right-wing “counter-culture.” One thing that plunging into 
this nonsense accomplished, of course, was to convince the partici- 
pants that liberty, statism, economics, politics, and even ethics were 
not really important; that the only thing that really counted was 
advances in personal spiritual “awareness.” 

Even though presumably not designed for that purpose, this 
was a beautiful way to destroy an active ideological movement. All 
the participants became tainted in one way or another. Thaddeus 
Ashby, who had become assistant editor of Faith and Freedom, 
influenced Johnson, and Gerald Heard obtained a regular column 
there, every month issuing incomprehensible Confucius-like pro- 
nouncements. (A typical column began: “People ask me, Mr. 
Heard, will there be war? And I answer: ‘Have you read Maeter- 
linck’s The Life of the Bee '?” — I am sure a most useful answer to the 
burning foreign policy question.) Ashby ended up dropping out of 
libertarian ideology altogether, and pursuing the mad mushroom 
in Mexico and the bizarre path of Tantric Yoga. Bill Mullendore’s 
enthusiasm for liberty weakened. And Ingebretsen was so influ- 
enced as to go virtually on permanent retreat. Business contribu- 
tions fell off drastically, despite a last-minute desperate attempt to 
transform Faith and Freedom into an exclusively antiunion organ, 
and the Rev. Fifield, who had run SM since the 1930s, resigned in 
1959, thus sounding the death knell for a once active and irnpor- 


tant organization. 

1 ; For an illuminating discussion of the mysticism that laid Spiritual 
Mobilization low in the late 1950s, see Eckard Vance Toy, Jr., “Ideology 
and Conflict in American Ultraconservatism, 1945-1960” (Ph.D. diss., 
University of Oregon, 1965), pp. 156-90. 

Decline of the Old Right 


Even Leonard Read was affected, and Read’s flirtation on the 
fringes of the Growing Edge group could only accelerate the 
steady deterioration of FEE. Leonard had always had a mystical 
streak; thus, he treated every newcomer to FEE to a one-hour 
monologue to the effect that “scientists tell me that if you could 
blow up an atom to the size of this room, and then step inside it, 
you would hear beautiful music.” (I forbore to ask him whether it 
would be Bach or Beethoven.) Apparently, this nonsense went over 
well with many FEE devotees. It, of course, could not go over at 
all with Frank Chodorov, a down-to-earth type who enjoyed dis- 
cussing real ideas and issues. It’s no wonder that Chodorov lasted 
for such a short time in such an intellectually stultifying atmos- 

In the meanwhile, libertarian social life in New York City had 
been a lowly business. There were no young libertarians in New 
York after Dick Cornuelle moved West, and what few there were — 
who included no anarchists — clustered around the Mises Seminar 
at New York University. A path out of the wilderness came in late 
1953, when I met at the seminar a brilliant group of young and 
budding libertarians; most were then seniors in high school, and 
one, Leonard Liggio, was a sophomore at Georgetown. Some of 
this group had formed a Cobden Club at the Bronx High School 
of Science and the group as a whole had met as activists in the 
Youth for Taft campaign in 1952. The conversion of this group to 
anarchism was a simple matter of libertarian logic, and we all 
became fast friends, forming ourselves into a highly informal 
group called the Circle Bastiat, after the nineteenth-century 
French laissez-faire economist. We had endless discussions of lib- 
ertarian political theory and current events, we sang and composed 
songs, joked about how we would be treated by “future historians,” 
toasted the day of future victory, and played board games until the 
wee hours. Those were truly joyous times. 

When I first met them, the Circle had, after the Taft defeat, 
formed the libertarian wing of a conservative-libertarian coali- 
tion that had constituted the Students for America; in fact the 
Circle kids totally controlled the Eastern branch of the SFA, 
while its president, Bob Munger, a conservative with rightist 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

political connections, controlled the West. Unfortunately, how- 
ever, only Munger had access to the financing, and when he was 
drafted shortly thereafter, SFA fell apart. From then on, we con- 
tinued throughout the 1950s as an isolated though rollicking 
group in New York. 

By the mid-1950s, the Old Right was demoralized politically 
with Taft dead, the Bricker Amendment defeated, and Eisenhower 
Republicanism triumphant, while intellectually the fading of the 
Old Right left a vacuum: the Freeman was to all intents and pur- 
poses finished, FEE was declining, Chodorov was incapacitated, 
Garrett dead, and Felix Morley, for persistent isolationism, was 
ousted from the Human Events that he had helped to found. Faith 
and Freedom and Spiritual Mobilization were likewise dead. 

Finally, the death of Colonel McCormick in April 1955 
deprived isolationism and its Middle-Western base of its most 
important and dedicated voice, as the publisher molding the 
Chicago Tribune. There were by now literally no libertarian or iso- 
lationist publishing outlets available. The time was ripe for the fill- 
ing of the vacuum, for the seizure of this lost continent and lost 
army, and for their mobilization by a man and a group that could 
supply intelligence, glibness, erudition, money, and political know- 
how to capture the right wing for a very different cause and for a 
very different drummer. The time had come for Bill Buckley and 
National Review. 


National Review and the 
Triumph of the New Right 

G aret Garrett had called the shots: in referring to the tri- 
umph of the New Deal and then of American Empire, he 
had summed up the strategy: “revolution within the 
form.” The New Right did not bother, would not rouse possible 
resistance, by directing a frontal assault on the old idols: on the 
dead Senator Taft, on the Bricker Amendment, or on the old ideals 
of individualism and liberty. Instead, they ignored some, dropped 
others, and claimed to come to fulfill the general ideals of individ- 
ualism in a new and superior “fusion” of liberty and ordered tradi- 

How, specifically, was the deed done? For one thing, by hitting 
us at our most vulnerable point: the blight of anti-Communism. 
For red-baiting came easily to all of us, even the most libertarian. 
In the first place, there were the terrible memories of World War 
II: the way in which the Communist Party had gleefully adopted 
the mantle of war patriots, of “twentieth-century Americanism,” 
and had unashamedly smeared all opponents of war as agents of 
Hitler. Conservative and former liberal isolationists could scarcely 
forget and forgive; and hence, when the Cold War began, when 
the “great patriotic coalition” of the U.S. and Russia fell apart, it 
was difficult for the Old Right to resist the temptation to avenge 
themselves, to turn the agents-of-a-foreign-power smear back 
upon their old tormentors. Furthermore, blinded by hatred of 
Russia as an interventionist power, we mistakenly believed that 
repudiation of the fruits of the Russian alliance, including Teheran 

14 7 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

and Yalta, was in itself a repudiation of World War II. We unfor- 
tunately did not realize — as later New Left historians were to point 
out — that the Cold War and the intervention into World War II 
were part and parcel of the same development: that one was the 
inevitable outgrowth of the other, and that both were an integral 
part of American imperialism rampant. 

But the problem was still deeper than that. For our main prob- 
lem was our simplistic view of the ideological-political spectrum. 
We all assumed that there were two poles: a “left” pole of Com- 
munism, socialism, and total government; and a “right” pole of lib- 
ertarianism and individualist anarchism. Left of center were the 
liberals and Social Democrats; right of center were the conserva- 
tives. From that simplistic spectrum we concluded, first, that con- 
servatives, no matter how divergent, were our “natural” allies, and 
second, that there was little real difference between liberals and 
Communists. Why not then fuzz the truth just a bit, and use the 
anti-Communist bludgeon to hit at the liberals, especially since the 
liberals had become entrenched in power and were running the 
country? There was a temptation that few of us could resist. 

What we didn’t fully realize at the time was that the Commu- 
nists and socialists had not invented statism or Leviathan govern- 
ment, that the latter had been around for centuries, and that the 
current developing Liberal-conservative consensus and in particu- 
lar the triumph of Liberalism was a reversion to the old despotic 
ancien regime. This ancien regime was the Old Order against which 
the libertarian and laissez-faire movements of the eighteenth and 
nineteenth centuries had emerged as a revolutionary opposition: 
an opposition on behalf of economic freedom and individual lib- 
erty. Jefferson, Cobden, and Thoreau as our forbears were ances- 
tors in more ways than one; for both we and they were battling 
against a mercantilist statism that established bureaucratic despot- 
ism and corporate monopolies at home and waged imperial wars 
abroad. But if socialism and liberalism are reversions to the Old 
European Conservatism, then it becomes clear that it is statist con- 
servatism — now joined by liberalism and social democracy — that is 
still, and not simply in 1800, the major enemy of liberty. And if lib- 
erals and Communists sound alike, this does not mean, as we 

National Review and the Triumph of the New Right 


thought then, that Liberals had somehow become crypto-Com- 
munists; on the contrary, it was a sign that Communists had 
become Liberals! 

But for us this analysis — to be developed by Leonard Liggio — 
was still far in the future. During the 1940s and ’50s we merrily 
engaged in red-baiting. My own position was characteristically lib- 
ertarian: I distinguished between “compulsory” red-baiting, using 
the power of the State to repress Communists and leftists, which I 
deplored, and “voluntary” red-baiting by private organizations and 
groups, which I supported. The former included the Smith Act 
prosecutions, the McCarran Act, and the inquisitions of HUAC. 
Another of my blind spots is that I did not realize the virtual 
impossibility of keeping domestic and foreign red-baiting strictly 
separate; it was psychologically and politically impossible to perse- 
cute or harass Communists or leftists at home, while at the same 
time pursuing a policy of peace, neutrality, and friendship with 
Communist countries overseas. And the global anti-Communist 
crusaders knew this truth all too well. 

From early in the postwar period, the major carriers of the anti- 
Communist contagion were the ex-Communist and ex-leftist 
intellectuals. In a climate of growing disillusion with the fatuous 
propaganda of World War II, the ex-Communists hit the intellec- 
tual and political worlds like a bombshell, more and more forming 
the spearhead of the anti-Communist crusade, domestic and for- 
eign. Sophisticated, worldly, veteran polemicists, they had been 
there: to naive and breathless Americans, the ex-leftists were like 
travelers from an unknown and therefore terrifying land, returning 
with authentic tales of horror and warning. Since they, with their 
special knowledge, knew, and since they raised the terrible warn- 
ings, who were we to deny that truth? The fact that “ex-es” 
throughout history have tried frantically to expiate their guilt and 
their fear of having wasted their lives by attempting to denigrate 
and exterminate their former love — that fact was lost on us as well 
as on most of America. 

From the very end of the war, the “ex-es” were everywhere on 
the Right, whipping up fear, pointing the finger, eager to persecute 
or exterminate any Communists they could find, at home and 

The Betrayal of the American Right 


abroad. Several older generation “ex-es” from the prewar era were 
prominent. One was George E. Sokolsky, columnist for the New 
York Sun, who had been a Communist in the early 1920s. Particu- 
larly prominent on the Right was Dr. J.B. Matthews, foremost 
Communist fellow- traveler of the early 1930s, who by the end of 
that decade was chief investigator for the Dies Committee; 
Matthews was to make a fortune out of his famous “card files,” a 
mammoth collection of “Communist front” names which he 
would use to sell his services as finger-man for industries and 
organizations; pleasant and erudite, Matthews had been converted 
from socialism partly by reading Mises’s Socialism. But the first lib- 
ertarian-red-baiting marriage was effected shortly after the end of 
the war by the veteran red-baiter Isaac Don Levine, who founded 
a little-known monthly called Plain Talk, which featured a curious 
mixture of libertarian political philosophy and ferocious exposes of 
alleged “Reds” in America. It was particularly curious because Don 
Levine has never, before or since that short-lived venture, ever 
exhibited any interest in freedom or libertarianism. When Plain 
Talk folded Don Levine moved to West Germany to play in the 
revanchist politics of East European emigre groups. 

Plain Talk disappeared after several years to make way for the 
weekly Freeman in 1950, a far more ambitious and better-financed 
venture which, however, never achieved anything like the influ- 
ence or readership of the later National Review. Again, this was a 
libertarian-conservative-red-baiting coalition venture. Coeditors 
were two veteran writers and journalists: Henry Hazlitt, a laissez- 
faire economist but never an isolationist; and John Chamberlain, a 
man of libertarian instincts and a former isolationist, but an ex- 
leftist deeply scarred by a Communist cell which had been nasty to 
him in Time magazine. 1 And so the isolationist cause was never 
well represented in the Freeman ; furthermore, Willi Schlamm later 

1 Don Levine had been slated to be a coeditor, but was booted out 
before the venture began because he had angered financial backers of the 
Freeman by attacking Merwin K. Hart in Plain Talk as being “anti- 
Semitic” (read: anti-Zionist). 

National Review and the Triumph of the New Right 


came in as book editor, and Chamberlain brought in the pro- 
foundly antilibertarian Forrest Davis to be a third coeditor. Davis, 
along with Ernest K. Lindley, had written the official Roosevelt 
administration apologia for Pearl Flarbor, and then moved on to 
become a ghostwriter for Joe McCarthy. 2 

It was, in fact, McCarthy and “McCarthyism” that provided the 
main catalyst for transforming the mass base of the right wing 
from isolationism and quasi-libertarianism to simple anti-Commu- 
nism. Before McCarthy launched his famous crusade in February 
1950, he had not been particularly associated with the right wing 
of the Republican Party; on the contrary, his record was more 
nearly liberal and centrist, statist rather than libertarian. It should 
be remembered that red-baiting and anti-Communist witch-hunt- 
ing was launched by the liberals and, even after McCarthy arose, it 
was the liberals who were the most effective at this game. It was, 
after all, the liberal Roosevelt administration that passed the Smith 
Act, which was then used against Trotskyites and isolationists dur- 
ing World War II and against the Communists after the war; it was 
the liberal Truman administration that prosecuted Alger Hiss and 
the Rosenbergs — and that launched the Cold War; it was the emi- 
nently liberal Hubert Humphrey who put through a clause in the 
McCarran Act of 1950 threatening concentration camps for “sub- 

In fact, New Left historians Steinke and Weinstein have shown 
that McCarthy himself learned his red-baiting from none other 
than the saintly Social Democratic figure Norman Thomas. Dur- 
ing the 1946 campaign, McCarthy first ran for the Senate against 
the great isolationist leader Robert LaFollette, Jr. While 
McCarthy did a little red-baiting of the still-consistent isolationist 
LaFollette in the primary, McCarthy was then a standard interna- 
tionalist, or Vandenberg, Republican, with indeed a few maverick 

"His most famous ghostwritten piece was McCarthy’s famous attack 
on the record of General George Marshall — an attack, significantly, 
which began during World War II, thus deliberately ignoring Marshall’s 
black record on Pearl Harbor. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

endorsements of the idea of negotiating peace with the Soviet 
Union. Then, on August 26, 1946, Norman Thomas, speaking at 
an annual picnic of the Wisconsin Socialist Party, red-baited the 
Democratic Senatorial candidate, Howard J. McMurray. Thomas 
in particular accused McMurray of being endorsed by the Daily 
Worker, an accusation that McCarthy picked up eagerly a few 
weeks later. McCarthy had gotten the bit in his teeth; he had 
learned how from a veteran of the internecine struggles on the 
Left. 3 

McCarthy’s crusade effectively transformed the mass base of 
the right wing by bringing into the movement a mass of urban 
Catholics from the Eastern seaboard. Before McCarthy, the rank- 
and-file of the right wing was the small-town, isolationist Middle 
West, the typical readers of the old Chicago Tribune. In contrast to 
the old base, the interest of the new urban Catholic constituency 
in individual liberty was, if anything, negative; one might say that 
their main political interest was in stamping out blasphemy and 
pornography at home and in killing Communists at home and 
abroad. In a sense, the subsequent emergence of Bill Buckley and 
his highly Catholic-ish National Review reflected this mass influx 
and transformation. It is surely no accident that Buckley’s first 
emergence on the political scene was to coauthor (with his 
brother-in-law, L. Brent Bozell, a convert to Catholicism), the 
leading pro-McCarthy work, McCarthy and His Enemies (1954). To 
the McCarthy banner also flocked the increasingly powerful gag- 
gle of ex-Communists and ex-leftists: notably, George Sokolsky, a 
leading McCarthy adviser, and J.B. Matthews, who was chief inves- 
tigator for McCarthy until he stepped on too many toes by 
denouncing the supposedly massive “infiltration” of the Protestant 
clergy by the Communist Party. 

3 On this instructive episode, see John Steinke and James Weinstein, 
“McCarthy and the Liberals,” in For a New America : Essays in History and 
Politics from Studies on the Left, 1959-1967, James Weinstein and David 
Eakins, eds. (New York: Random House, 1970), pp. 180-93. 

National Review and the Triumph of the New Right 

IS 3 

Not seeing this transformation process at work at the time, I 
myself was a McCarthy enthusiast. There were two basic reasons. 
One was that while McCarthy was employing the weapon of a gov- 
ernmental committee, the great bulk of his victims were not pri- 
vate citizens but government officials: bureaucrats and Army offi- 
cers. Most of McCarthy’s red-baiting was therefore “voluntary” 
rather than “compulsory,” since the persons being attacked were, 
as government officials, fair game from the libertarian point of 
view. Besides, day in and day out, such Establishment organs as the 
New York Times kept telling us that McCarthy was “tearing down 
the morale of the executive branch”; what more could a libertarian 
hope for? And “tearing down the morale of the Army” to boot! 
What balm for an antimilitarist! 

Recently, I had occasion to see once again, after all these years, 
Emile D ’Antonio’s film of the McCarthy censure hearings, Point of 
Order. Seeing it with an old-time member of the Circle who had 
also abandoned the right wing long since, we were curious about 
how we would react; for neither of us had really rethought the 
long-dead McCarthy episode. Within minutes, we found ourselves 
cheering once again, though in a rather different way, for that 
determined symbol of the witch-hunt. For the film began with 
McCarthy pointing as his basic premise to some crazed map of the 
United States with the “international Communist conspiracy” 
moving in a series of coordinated arrows against the United States. 
(It was for all the world like some ’50s issue of the Harvard Lam- 
poon, satirizing an absurd military “menace.”) But the crucial point 
is that McCarthy’s Army and Senatorial adversaries never con- 
tested this absurd axiom; and once given the axiom, McCarthy’s 
relentless logic was impeccable. As Steinke and Weinstein point 
out, McCarthy did not invent witch-hunting and red-baiting. 
“Nor, as many liberals complain, did he abuse or misuse an other- 
wise useful tool; he simply carried it to its logical conclusion.” 
Indeed, he took the liberals’ own creation and turned it against 
them, and against the swollen Leviathan Army officials as well; and 
to see them get at least a measure of comeuppance, to see the lib- 
erals and centrists hoisted on their own petard, was sweet indeed. 
In the words of Steinke and Weinstein, McCarthy 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

rode the monster too hard, turning it against its creators, and 
they, realizing finally that their creation was out of control, 
attempted in flaccid defense to turn it back upon him. 4 

As a bit of personal corroboration, I fully remember the reac- 
tion of a close acquaintance, an old Russian Menshevik, a member 
of the Russian Social Democratic Federation and veteran anti- 
Communist, when McCarthy’s movement began. Fie was posi- 
tively gleeful, and ardently supported the McCarthy crusade; it was 
only later, when he “went too far” that the old Menshevik felt that 
McCarthy had to be dumped. 

But there was another reason for my own fascination with the 
McCarthy phenomenon: his populism. For the ’50s was an era 
when liberalism — now accurately termed “corporate liberalism” — 
had triumphed, and seemed to be permanently in the saddle. Hav- 
ing now gained the seats of power, the liberals had given up their 
radical veneer of the ’30s and were now settling down to the cozy 
enjoyment of their power and perquisites. It was a comfortable 
alliance of Wall Street, Big Business, Big Government, Big 
Unions, and liberal Ivy League intellectuals; it seemed to me that 
while in the long run this unholy alliance could only be over- 
thrown by educating a new generation of intellectuals, that in the 
short run the only hope to dislodge this new ruling elite was a pop- 
ulist short-circuit. In sum, that there was a vital need to appeal 
directly to the masses, emotionally, even demagogically, over the 
heads of the Establishment: of the Ivy League, the mass media, the 
liberal intellectuals, of the Republican-Democrat political party 
structure. This appeal could be done — especially in that period of 
no organized opposition whatever — only by a charismatic leader, a 
leader who could make a direct appeal to the masses and thereby 
undercut the ruling and opinion-molding elite; in sum, by a pop- 
ulist short-circuit. It seemed to me that this was what McCarthy 
was trying to do; and that it was largely this appeal, the open- 
ended sense that there was no audacity of which McCarthy was not 

4 Ibid., p. 180. 

National Review and the Triumph of the New Right 


capable, that frightened the liberals, who, from their opposite side 
of the fence, also saw that the only danger to their rule was in just 
such a whipping up of populist emotions. 5 

My own quip at the time, which roughly summed up this posi- 
tion, was that in contrast to the liberals, who approved of 
McCarthy’s “ends” (ouster of Communists from offices and jobs) 
but disapproved of his radical and demagogic means, I myself 
approved his means (radical assault on the nation’s power struc- 
ture) but not necessarily his ends. 

It is surely no accident that, with their power consolidated and 
a populist appeal their only fear, the liberal intellectuals began to 
push hard for their proclamation of the “end of ideology.” Hence 
their claim that ideology and hard-nosed doctrines were no longer 
valuable or viable, and their ardent celebration of the newfound 
American consensus. With such enemies and for such reasons, it 
was hard for me not to be a “McCarthyite.” 

The leading expression of this celebration of consensus com- 
bined with the newfound fear of ideology and populism was Daniel 
Bell’s collection, The New American Right (1955). This collection 
was also significant in drawing together ex-radicals (Bell, Seymour 
Martin Lipset, Richard Hofstadter, Nathan Glazer) along with an 
antipopulist liberal “conservative” (Peter Viereck), into this pro- 
elitist and antipopulist consensus. Also noteworthy is the book’s 
dedication to S.M. Levitas, executive editor of the Social Democ- 
ratic New Leader, the publication that bound “responsible” red- 
baiters and liberals into the postwar Cold War consensus. 6 

5 It is precisely this sort of analysis that has made many astute members 
of the New Left in a sense sympathetic to the George Wallace movement 
of recent years. For while the Wallaceite program may be questionable, 
his analysis of the Establishment and his tapping of middle-class senti- 
ment against the ruling elite that oppresses them earns from the New 
Left a considerable amount of sympathy. 

’Daniel Bell, ed., The New American Right (New York: Criterion 
Books, 1955). The book was updated eight years later, with new chapters 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

The peak of my populist and McCarthyite activities came dur- 
ing the height of the McCarthy turmoil, in the furor over the 
activities of Roy Cohn and S. David Schine. It was shortly after the 
founding of the Circle Bastiat, and the kids of the Circle, in their 
capacity as leaders of the still-functioning Students for America, 
were invited to address a massive testimonial dinner given for Roy 
Cohn upon his forced ouster from the McCarthy Committee at 
the Hotel Astor in New York on July 26, 1954. Major speakers 
were such McCarthyite leaders as Godfrey P. Schmidt, Colonel 
Archibald Roosevelt, George Sokolsky, Alfred Kohlberg, Bill 
Buckley, and Rabbi Benjamin Schultz. But the speech which drew 
the most applause, and which gained a considerable amount of 
notoriety, was the brief address given by one of our Circle mem- 
bers (George Reisman), which I had written. The speech asked 
why the intensity of the hatred against Cohn and McCarthy by the 
liberal intellectuals; and it answered that a threat against Commu- 
nists in government was also felt to be a threat against the “Social- 
ists and New Dealers, who have been running our political life for 
the last twenty-one years, and are still running it!” The speech 
concluded in a rousing populist appeal that 

As the Chicago Tribune aptly put it, the Case of Roy Cohn is 
the American Dreyfus Case. As Dreyfus was redeemed, so 
will Roy Cohn when the American people have taken back 
their government from the criminal alliance of Communists, 
Socialists, New Dealers, and Eisenhower-Dewey Republi- 

Rabbi Schultz, presiding at the dinner, warily referred to the 
tumultuous applause for the Reisman speech as a “runaway grand 
jury,” and the applause and the speech were mentioned in the 

added from the perspective of the early 1960s. Daniel Bell, ed., The New 
American Right: Expanded and Updated (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday 
Anchor, 1963). From a later perspective, it is clear that this was a proto- 
neoconservative book, Bell, Glazer, and Lipset becoming prominent neo- 
cons in the 1970s and 1980s. 

National Review and the Triumph of the New Right 


accounts of the New York Journal- American, the New York Herald- 
Tribune, Jack Lait’s column in the New York Mirror, the New York 
World-Telegram and Sun, Murray Kemp ton’s column in the New 
York Post, and Time magazine. Particularly upset was the veteran lib- 
eral and “extremist- baiting” radio commentator, George Hamilton 
Combs. Combs warned that “the resemblance between this crowd 
and their opposite members of the extreme left is startlingly close. 
This was a rightist version of the Henry Wallace convention crowd, 
the Progressive Party convention of ’48.” 

Particularly interesting is the fact that the by-now-notorious 
concluding lines of the speech became enshrined in Peter Viereck’s 
contribution to the Daniel Bell book, “The Revolt Against the 
Elite.” Viereck saw the Reisman phraseology as a dangerous “out- 
burst of direct democracy” which “comes straight from the leftist 
rhetoric of the old Populists and Progressives, a rhetoric forever 
urging the People to take back ‘their’ government from the con- 
spiring Powers That Be.” Precisely. Viereck also explained that he 
meant by “direct democracy,” “our mob tradition of Tom Paine, 
Jacobinism, and the Midwestern Populist parties,” which “is gov- 
ernment by referendum and mass petition, such as the McCarthyite 
Committee of Ten Million.” Being “immediate and hotheaded,” 
direct democracy “facilitates revolution, demagogy, and Robespier- 
rian thought control” — in contrast, I suppose, to the quieter but 
more pervasive elitist “thought control” of corporate liberalism. ' 

Since I failed to understand the interplay of domestic and for- 
eign red-baiting that was at work in the McCarthy movement, I 
was bewildered when McCarthy, after his outrageous censure by 
the Senate in late 1954, turned to whooping it up for war on behalf 
of Chiang Kai-shek in Asia. Why this turnabout? It was clear that 
the New Right forces behind McCarthy were now convinced that 
domestic red-baiting, angering as it did the Center-Right estab- 
lishment, had become counterproductive, and that from now on 


Peter Viereck, “Revolt Against the Elite,” in New American Right, 
Bell, ed., pp. 97-98, 116. 

The Betrayal of the American Right 


the full stress must be on pushing for war against Communism 
abroad. In retrospect it is clear that a major force for this turn was 
the sinister figure of the millionaire Far Eastern importer, Alfred 
Kohlberg, a major backer of McCarthy who supplied him with 
much of his material, and boasted of his position as Dean of the 
powerful “China Lobby” on behalf of Chiang Kai-shek. While a 
failure in the short run, the McCarthy movement had done its 
work of shifting the entire focus of the right wing front libertarian, 
antistatist, and isolationist concerns to a focus and concentration 
upon the alleged Communist “menace.” A diversion from domes- 
tic to foreign affairs would not only consolidate the right wing; it 
would also draw no real opposition from liberals and internation- 
alist Republicans who had, after all, begun the Cold War in the 
first place. 

The short-run collapse of the McCarthy movement was clearly 
due, furthermore, to the lack of any sort of McCarthyite organiza- 
tion. There were leaders, there was press support, there was a large 
mass base, but there were no channels of organization, no inter- 
mediary links, either in journals of opinion or of more direct pop- 
ular organizations, between the leaders and the base. In late 1955, 
William F. Buckley and his newly formed weekly, National Review, 
set out to remedy that lack. 

In 1951, when Bill Buckley first burst upon the scene with his 
God and Man at Yale, he liked to refer to himself as a “libertarian” 
or even at times as an “anarchist”; for in those early days Buckley’s 
major ideological mentor was Frank Chodorov rather than, as it 
would soon become, the notorious Whittaker Chambers. But 
even in those early “libertarian” days, there was one clinker that 
made his libertarianism only phony rhetoric: the global anti- 
Communist crusade. Thus, take one of Buckley’s early efforts, “A 
Young Republican’s View,” published in Commonweal, January 25, 
1952. Buckley began the article in unexceptionable libertarian 
fashion, affirming that the enemy is the State, and endorsing the 
view of Herbert Spencer that the State is “begotten of aggression 
and by aggression.” Buckley also contributed excellent quotations 
from such leading individualists of the past as H.L. Mencken and 
Albert Jay Nock, and criticized the Republican Party for offering 

National Review and the Triumph of the New Right 


no real alternative to the burgeoning of statism. But then in the 
remainder of the article he gave the case away, for there loomed 
the alleged Soviet menace, and all libertarian principles had to go 
by the board for the duration. Thus, Buckley declared that the 
“thus far invincible aggressiveness of the Soviet Union” immi- 
nently threatens American security, and that therefore “we have to 
accept Big Government for the duration — for neither an offensive 
nor a defensive war can be waged . . . except through the instru- 
ment of a totalitarian bureaucracy within our shores.” In short, a 
totalitarian bureaucracy must be accepted so long as the Soviet 
Union exists (presumably for its alleged threat of imposing upon 
us a totalitarian bureaucracy?). In consequence, Buckley concluded 
that we must all support “the extensive and productive tax laws that 
are needed to support a vigorous anti-Communist foreign policy,” 
as well as “large armies and air forces, atomic energy, central intel- 
ligence, war production boards and the attendant centralization of 
power in Washington — even with Truman at the reins of it all.” 8 
Thus, even at his most libertarian, even before Buckley came to 
accept Big Government and morality laws as ends in themselves, 
the pretended National Review “fusion” between liberty and order, 
between individualism and anti-Communism, was a phony — the 
individualist and libertarian part of the fusion was strictly rhetori- 
cal, to be saved for abstract theorizing and after-dinner discourse. 
The guts of the New Conservatism was the mobilization of Big 
Government for the worldwide crusade against Communism. 

And so, when National Review was founded with much expertise 
and financing in late 1955, the magazine was a coming together to 
direct the newly transformed right wing on the part of two groups: 
all the veteran ex-Communist journalists and intellectuals, and the 
new group of younger Catholics whose major goal was anti-Com- 
munism. Thus, the central and guiding theme for both groups in 
this Unholy Coalition was the extirpation of Communism, at home 
and particularly abroad. Prominent on the new magazine were 

8 William F. Buckley, Jr., “A Young Republican’s View,” Commonweal 
55, no. 16 (January 25, 1952): 391-93. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

leading ex-leftists: James Burnham, former Trotskyite; Frank S. 
Meyer, formerly on the national committee of the Communist 
Party and head of its Chicago training school; ex-German Com- 
munist leader William S. Schlamm; Dr. J.B. Matthews; ex-leftist 
Max Eastman; ex-Communist Ralph DeToledano; former leading 
German Communist theoretician Professor Karl Wittfogel; John 
Chamberlain, a leading leftist intellectual of the thirties; ex-fellow 
traveler Eugene Lyons; ex-Communist Will Elerberg; former 
Communist spy Whittaker Chambers; and a whole slew of others. 

The Catholic wing consisted of two parts. One was a charming 
but ineffectual group of older European or European-oriented 
monarchists and authoritarians: e.g., the erudite Austrian Erik von 
Kuehnelt-Leddihn; the poet Roy Campbell; the pro-Spanish 
Carlist Frederick Wilhelmsen; and the Englishman Sir Arnold 
Lunn. I remember one night a heated discussion at a conservative 
gathering about the respective merits of the Elabsburgs, the Stu- 
arts, the Bourbons, the Carlists, the Crown of St. Stephen, and the 
Crown of St. Wenceslas; and which monarchy should be restored 
first. Whatever the merits of the monarchist position, this was not 
an argument relevant to the American tradition, let alone the 
American cultural and political scene of the day. In retrospect, did 
Buckley keep this group around as exotic trimming, as an intellec- 
tual counterpart to his own social jet set? 

The other wing of younger Catholics was far more important 
for the purposes of the new magazine. These were the younger 
American anti -Commu ni sts, most prominently the various mem- 
bers of the Buckley family (who in closeness and lifestyle has 
seemed a right-wing version of the Kennedys), which included at 
first Buckley’s brother-in-law and college roommate, L. Brent 
Bozell; and Buckley’s then favorite disciple later turned leftist, 
Garry Wills. Rounding out the Catholic aura at National Review 
was the fact that two of its leading editors became Catholic con- 
verts: Frank Meyer and political scientist Willmoore Kendall. It 
was the essence of National Review as an anti-Conununist organ 
that accounted for its being a coalition of ex-Stalinists and Trot- 
skyites and younger Catholics, and led observers to remark on the 
curious absence of American Protestants (who had of course been 

National Review and the Triumph of the New Right 


the staple of the Old Right) from the heart of the Buckleyite New 
Right . 9 

In this formidable but profoundly statist grouping, interest in 
individual liberty was minimal or negative, being largely confined 
to some of the book reviews by John Chamberlain and to whatever 
time Frank Meyer could manage to take off from advocacy of all- 
out war against the Soviet bloc. Interest in free-market economics 
was minimal and largely rhetorical, confined to occasional pieces 
by Henry Hazlitt, who for his part had never been an isolationist 
and who endorsed the hard-line foreign policy of the magazine. 

In the light of hindsight, we should now ask whether or not a 
major objective of National Review from its inception was to trans- 
form the right wing from an isolationist to global warmongering 
anti-Communist movement; and, particularly, whether or not the 
entire effort was in essence a CIA operation. We now know that 
Bill Buckley, for the two years prior to establishing National 
Review, was admittedly a CIA agent in Mexico City, and that the 
sinister E. Howard Hunt was his control. His sister Priscilla, who 
became managing editor of National Review, was also in the CIA; 
and other editors James Burnham and Willmoore Kendall had at 
least been recipients of CIA largesse in the anti-Communist Con- 
gress for Cultural Freedom. In addition, Burnham has been iden- 
tified by two reliable sources as a consultant for the CIA in the 
years after World War II . 10 Moreover, Garry Wills relates in his 
memoirs of the conservative movement that Frank Meyer, to 
whom he was close at the time, was convinced that the magazine 
was a CIA operation. With his Leninist-trained nose for intrigue, 
Meyer must be considered an important witness. 

9 Thus, see George H. Nash, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in 
America Since 1945 (N ew York: Basic Books, 1976), p. 127; and Samuel 
Francis, “Beautiful Losers: the Failure of American Conservatism,” 
Chronicles (May 1991): 16. 

10 See Nash, Conservative Intellectual Movement, p. 372. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Furthermore, it was a standard practice in the CIA, at least in 
those early years, that no one ever resigned from the CIA. A friend 
of mine who joined the Agency in the early 1950s told me that if, 
before the age of retirement, he was mentioned as having left the 
CIA for another job, that I was to disregard it, since it would only 
be a cover for continuing Agency work. On that testimony, the 
case for NR being a CIA operation becomes even stronger. Also 
suggestive is the fact that a character even more sinister than E. 
Howard Hunt, William J. Casey, appears at key moments of the 
establishment of the New over the Old Right. It was Casey who, 
as attorney, presided over the incorporation of National Review and 
had arranged the details of the ouster of Felix Morley from Human 

At any rate, in retrospect, it is clear that libertarians and Old 
Rightists, including myself, had made a great mistake in endorsing 
domestic red-baiting, a red-baiting that proved to be the major 
entering wedge for the complete transformation of the original 
right wing. We should have listened more carefully to Frank 
Chodorov, and to his splendidly libertarian stand on domestic red- 
baiting: “How to get rid of the communists in the government? 
Easy. Just abolish the jobs.” 11 It was the jobs and their functioning 
that was the important thing, not the quality of the people who 
happened to fill them. More fully, Chodorov wrote: 

And now we come to the spy-hunt — which is, in reality, a 
heresy trial. What is it that perturbs the inquisitors? They do 
not ask the suspects: Do you believe in Power? Do you 
adhere to the idea that the individual exists for the glory of 
the State? . . . Are you against taxes, or would you raise them 
until they absorbed the entire output of the country? . . . Are 
you opposed to the principle of conscription? Do you favor 
more “social gains” under the aegis of an enlarged bureau- 
cracy? Or, would you advocate dismantling of the public 
trough at which these bureaucrats feed? In short, do you deny 

n Frank Chodorov, “Trailing the Trend,” analysis 6, no. 6 (April 1950): 
3. Quoted in Hamilton, “Introduction,” p. 25. 

National Review and the Triumph of the New Right 


Such questions might prove embarrassing, to the investi- 
gators. The answers might bring out a similarity between 
their ideas and purposes and those of the suspected. They too 
worship Power. Under the circumstances, they limit them- 
selves to one question: Are you a member of the Communist 
Party? And this turns out to mean, have you aligned your- 
selves with the Moscow branch of the church? 

Power-worship is presently sectarianized along national- 
istic lines. . . . Each nation guards its orthodoxy. . . . Where 
Power is attainable, the contest between rival sects is 
unavoidable. . . . War is the apotheosis of Power, the ultimate 
expression of the faith and solidarization of its achievement. 12 

And Frank had also written: 

The case against the communists involves a principle of tran- 
scending importance. It is the right to be wrong. Heterodoxy 
is a necessary condition of a free society. . . . The right to 
make a choice ... is important to me, for the freedom of 
selection is necessary to my sense of personality; it is impor- 
tant to society, because only from the juxtaposition of ideas 
can we hope to approach the ideal of truth. 

Whenever I choose an idea or label it “right,” I imply the 
prerogative of another to reject that idea and label it 
“wrong.” To invalidate his right is to invalidate mine. That is, 

I must brook error if I would preserve my freedom of 
thought. ... If men are punished for espousing communism, 
shall we stop there? Once we deny the right to be wrong, we 
put a vise on the human mind and put the temptation to turn 
the handle into the hands of ruthlessness. 13 

While anti-Communism was the central root of the decay of 
the Old Right and the replacement by its statist opposite in 

12 Frank Chodorov, “The Spy-Hunt,” analysis 4, no. 11 (September 
1948): 1-2. Reprinted in Chodorov, Out of Step (New York: Devin-Adair, 
1962), pp. 181-83. 

13 Frank Chodorov, “How to Curb the Commies,” analysis 5, no. 7 
(May 1949): 2. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

National Review, there was another important force in transform- 
ing the American right wing, especially in vitiating its “domestic” 
libertarianism and even its rhetorical devotion to individual liberty. 
This was the sudden emergence of Russell Kirk as the leader of the 
New Conservatism, with the publication of his book The Conserv- 
ative Mind in 1953. Kirk, who became a regular columnist of 
National Review as soon as it was founded, created a sensation with 
his book and quickly became adopted as the conservative darling of 
the “vital center.” In fact, before Buckley became prominent as the 
leading conservative spokesman of the media, Russell Kirk was the 
most prominent conservative. After the appearance of his book, 
Kirk began to make speeches around the country, often in a 
friendly “vital center” tandem with Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. 

For Kirk was far more acceptable to “vital center” corporate 
liberalism than was the Old Right. Scorning any trait of individu- 
alism or rigorous free-market economics, Kirk was instead quite 
close to the Conservatism of Peter Viereck; to Kirk, Big Govern- 
ment and domestic statism were perfectly acceptable, provided 
that they were steeped in some sort of Burkean tradition and 
enjoyed a Christian framework. Indeed, it was clear that Kirk’s 
ideal society was an ordered English squirearchy, ruled by the 
Anglican Church and Tory landlords in happy tandem. 1 Here 
there was no fiery individualism, no trace of populism or radical- 
ism to upset the ruling classes or the liberal intellectual Establish- 
ment. Here at last was a Rightist with whom liberals, while not 
exactly agreeing, could engage in a cozy dialogue. 

It was Kirk, in fact, who brought the words “Conservatism” and 
“New Conservatism” into general acceptance on the right wing. 
Before that, knowledgeable libertarians had hated the word, and 
with good reason; for weren’t the conservatives the ancient enemy, 
the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Tory and reactionary sup- 
pressors of individual liberty, the ancient champions of the Old 
Order of Throne-and-Altar against which the eighteenth- and 

14 Kirk, too, was to follow other National Review leaders into 
Catholicism a decade later. 

National Review and the Triumph of the New Right 


nineteenth-century liberals had fought so valiantly? And so the 
older classical-liberals and individualists resisted the term bitterly: 
Ludwig von Mises, a classical liberal, scorned the term; F.A. Hayek 
insisted on calling himself an “Old Whig”; and when Frank 
Chodorov was called a “conservative” in the pages of National 
Review, he wrote an outraged letter declaring, “As for me, I will 
punch anyone who calls me a conservative in the nose. I am a rad- 
ical .” 15 Before Russell Kirk, the word “conservative,” being redo- 
lent of reaction and the Old Order, was a Left smear-word applied 
to the right wing; it was only after Kirk that the right wing, includ- 
ing the new National Review, rushed to embrace this previously 
hated term. 

The Kirkian influence was soon evident in right-wing youth 
meetings. I remember one gathering when, to my dismay, one Gri- 
dley Wright, an aristocratic leader of Yale campus conservatism, 
declared that the true ideological struggle of our day, between left 
and right, had nothing to do with free-nrarket economics or with 
individual liberty versus statisnr. The true struggle, he declared, 
was Christianity versus atheism, and good manners versus boor- 
ishness and materialistic greed: the materialist greed, for example, 
of the starving peoples of India who were trying to earn an income, 
a bit of subsistence. It was easy, of course, for a wealthy Yale man 
whose father owned a large chunk of Montana to decry the “mate- 
rialistic greed” of the poor; was this what the right wing was com- 
ing to? 

Russell Kirk also succeeded in altering our historical pantheon 
of heroes. Mencken, Nock, Thoreau, Jefferson, Paine, and Garri- 
son were condemned as rationalists, atheists, or anarchists, and 
were replaced by such reactionaries and antilibertarians as Burke, 
Metternich, De Maistre, or Alexander Hamilton . 16 

'Tetter to National Review 2, no. 20 (October 6, 1956): 23. Cited in 
Hamilton, “Introduction,” p. 29. 

’Kirk himself never equaled the success of The Conservative Mind. His 
later columns in National Review were largely confined to attacks upon 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

With its formidable array of anti-Communists and Catholic 
traditionalists, National Review quickly took over the lead and 
direction of the New Right, which it rapidly remolded in its own 
image. The “official” line of National Review was what came to be 
called “fusionist,” whose leading practitioners were Meyer and 
Buckley; “fusionism” stressed the dominance of anti-Communism 
and Christian order, to be sure, but retained some libertarian rhet- 
oric in a subordinate rank. The importance of the libertarian and 
Old Right rhetoric was largely political; for it would have been dif- 
ficult for National Review to lead a conservative political revival in 
this country in the garb of monarchy and Inquisition. Without 
fusionism, the transformation of the right wing could not have 
taken place within the form, and might have alienated much of the 
right-wing mass base. Many of the other National Review intellec- 
tuals were, in contrast, impatient with any concessions to liberty. 
These included Kirk’s Tory traditionalism; the various wings of 
monarchists; and Willmoore Kendall’s open call for suppression of 
freedom of speech. The great thrust of Kendall, a National Review 
editor for many years, was his view that it is the right and duty of 
the “majority” of the community — as embodied, say, in Con- 
gress — to suppress any individual who disturbs that community 
with radical doctrines. Socrates, opined Kendall, not only should 
have been killed by the Greek community, but it was their 
bounden moral duty to kill him. 

Kendall, incidentally, was symptomatic of the change in attitude 
toward the Supreme Court from Old Right to New. One of the 
major doctrines of the Old Right was the defense of the Supreme 
Court’s role in outlawing congressional and executive incursions 
against individual liberty; but now the New Right, as typified by 
Kendall, bitterly attacked the Supreme Court day in and day out, 
and for what? Precisely for presuming to defend the liberty of the 
individual against the incursions of Congress and the Executive. 

the follies of progressive education. To be fair, Nash’s work reveals that 
Kirk was really an isolationist Old Rightist during World War II; his shift 
to the New Conservatism in the early 1950s remains something of a mys- 
tery. Nash, Conservative Intellectual Movement, pp. 70-76. 

National Review and the Triumph of the New Right 


Thus, the Old Right had always bitterly attacked the judicial doc- 
trines of Felix Frankfurter, who was considered a left-wing monster 
for undercutting the activist role of the Supreme Court in declar- 
ing various extensions of government power to be unconstitutional; 
but now Kendall and National Review were leading the Right in 
hailing Frankfurter precisely for this permissive placing of the judi- 
cial imprimatur on almost any action of the federal government. By 
staying in the same place, Felix Frankfurter had shifted from being 
a villain to a hero of the newly transformed Right, while it was now 
such libertarian activists as Justices Black and Douglas who 
received the abuse of the right wing. It was getting to be an ever 
weirder right-wing world that I was inhabiting. It was indeed the 
venerable Alexander Bickel, a disciple of Frankfurter’s at Yale Law 
School, who converted young professor Robert Bork from a liber- 
tarian to a majoritarian jurist. 

At the opposite pole from the Catholic ultras, but at one with 
them in being opposed to liberty and individualism, was James 
Burnham, who since the inception of National Review has been its 
cold, hard-nosed, amoral political strategist and resident Machi- 
avellian. Burnham, whose National Review column was entitled 
“The Third World War,” was the magazine’s leading power and 
global anti-Communist strategist. In a lifetime of political writing, 
James Burnham has shown only one fleeting bit of positive inter- 
est in individual liberty: and that was a call in National Review for 
the legalization of firecrackers! 

On the more directly political front, National Review obviously 
needed a “fusionist” for its political tactician, for the direct guid- 
ance of conservatism as a political movement. It found that tacti- 
cian in its publisher, the former Deweyite Young Republican Bill 
Rusher. A brilliant political organizer, Rusher was able, by the late 
1950s, to take over control of the College Young Republicans, and 
then the National Young Republican Federation. 

Heading a group called the “Syndicate,” Rusher has managed 
to control the national Young Republications ever since. In 1959, 
National Review organized the founding of the Young Americans 
for Freedom at Bill Buckley’s estate at Sharon, Connecticut. Young 
Americans for Freedom soon grew to many thousand strong, and 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

became in effect the collegiate youth-activist arm of the National 
Review political complex. Unfortunately, the bulk of young liber- 
tarians at the time stayed solidly in the conservative movement; 
heedless of the foreign policy betrayal of the Old Right, these 
young libertarians and semi-libertarians well served the purposes 
of National Review by lending the patina of libertarian rhetoric to 
such ventures as Young Americans for Freedom. Thus, Young 
Americans for Freedom’s founding Sharon Statement was its only 
even remotely close approach to libertarianism; its actual activities 
have always been confined to anticommunism, including the 
attempted interdiction of trade with the Communist countries — 
and lately were expanded to attempting legal suppression of left- 
wing student rebellions. But the libertarian veneer was supplied 
not only by the title and by parts of the Sharon Statement, but also 
by the fact that Young Americans for Freedom’s first president, 
Robert M. Schuchman, was a libertarian anti-Communist who had 
once been close to the old Circle Bastiat. More typical of the mass 
base of conservative youth was the considerable contingent at 
Sharon who objected to the title of the new organization, because, 
they said, “Freedom is a left-wing word.” It would have been far 
more candid, though less politically astute, if the noble word free- 
dom had been left out of Young Americans for Freedom’s title. 

By the late 1950s, Barry Goldwater had been decided upon as 
the political leader of the New Right, and it was Rusher and the 
National Review clique that inspired the Draft Goldwater move- 
ment and Youth for Goldwater in 1960. Goldwater’s ideological 
manifesto of 1960, The Conscience of a Conservative, was ghostwrit- 
ten by Brent Bozell, who wrote fiery articles in National Review 
attacking liberty even as an abstract principle, and upholding the 
function of the State in imposing and enforcing moral and reli- 
gious creeds. Its foreign policy chapter, “The Soviet Menace,” was 
a thinly disguised plea for all-out offensive war against the Soviet 
Union and other Communist nations. The Goldwater movement 
of 1960 was a warm-up for the future; and when Nixon was 
defeated in the 1960 election, Rusher and National Review 
launched a well-coordinated campaign to capture the Republican 
Party for Barry Goldwater in 1964. 

National Review and the Triumph of the New Right 


It was this drastic shift to all-out and pervasive war-mongering 
that I found hardest to swallow. For years I had thought of myself 
politically as an “extreme right-winger,” but this emotional iden- 
tification with the right was becoming increasingly difficult. To be 
a political ally of Senator Taft was one thing; to be an ally of sta- 
tists who thirsted for all-out war against Russia was quite another. 
For the first five years of its existence I moved in National Review 
circles. I had known Frank Meyer as a fellow analyst for the 
William Volker Fund, and through Meyer had met Buckley and 
the rest of the editorial staff. I attended National Review luncheons, 
rallies, and cocktail parties, and wrote a fair number of articles and 
book reviews for the magazine. But the more I circulated among 
these people, the greater my horror because I realized with grow- 
ing certainty that what they wanted above all was total war against 
the Soviet Union; their fanatical warmongering would settle for no 

Of course the New Rightists of National Review would never 
quite dare to admit this crazed goal in public, but the objective 
would always be slyly implied. At right-wing rallies no one cheered 
a single iota for the free market, if this minor item were ever so 
much as mentioned; what really stirred up the animals were dem- 
agogic appeals by National Review leaders for total victory, total 
destruction of the Communist world. It was that which brought 
the right-wing masses out of their seats. It was National Review edi- 
tor Brent Bozell who trumpeted, at a right-wing rally: “I would 
favor destroying not only the whole world, but the entire universe 
out to the furthermost star, rather than suffer Communism to 
live.” It was National Review editor Frank Meyer who once told me: 
“I have a vision, a great vision of the future: a totally devastated 
Soviet Union.” I knew that this was the vision that really animated 
the new Conservatism. Frank Meyer, for example, had the follow- 
ing argument with his wife, Elsie, over foreign-policy strategy: 
Should we drop the H-Bomb on Moscow and destroy the Soviet 
Union immediately and without warning (Frank), or should we give 
the Soviet regime 24 hours with which to comply with an ultima- 
tum to resign (Elsie)? 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

In the meanwhile, isolationist or antiwar sentiment disappeared 
totally from right-wing publications or organizations, as rightists 
hastened to follow the lead of National Review and its burgeoning 
political and activist organizations. The death of Colonel 
McCormick of the Chicago Tribune and the ouster of Felix Morley 
from Human Events meant that these crucial mass periodicals 
would swing behind the new pro-war line. Harry Elmer Barnes, 
the leader and promoter of World War II revisionism, was some- 
how able to publish an excellent article on Hiroshima in National 
Review, but apart from that, found that conservative interest in 
revisionism, prominent after World War II, had dried up and 
become hostile. 1 ' For as William Henry Chamberlin had discov- 
ered, the Munich analogy was a powerful one to use against oppo- 
nents of the new war drive; besides, any questioning of American 
intervention in the previous war crusade inevitably cast doubts on 
its current role, let alone on New Right agitation for an even hot- 
ter war. Right-wing publishers like Henry Regnery and Devin- 
Adair lost interest in isolationist or revisionist works. Once in a 
while, a few libertarians who had not fallen silent about the war 
drive or even joined it expressed their opposition and concern; but 
they could only do so in private correspondence. There was no 
other outlet available . 18 

Particularly disgraceful was National Review's refusal to give the 
great John T. Flynn an outlet for his opposition to the Cold War. 
The doughty veteran Flynn, who had, interestingly enough, cham- 
pioned Joe McCarthy, bitterly opposed the New Right emphasis 


Harry Elmer Barnes, “Hiroshima: Assault on a Beaten Foe,” 
National Review 5, no. 19 (May 10, 1958): 441-43. See Murray N. 
Rothbard, “Harry Elmer Barnes as Revisionist of the Cold War,” in 
Harry Elmer Barnes: Learned Crusader, A. Goddard, ed. (Colorado 
Springs, Colo.: Ralph Myles, 1968), pp. 314—38. 

18 Thus, see the letters in the late 1950s of Roland W. (“Rollie”) 
Holmes, and of Dr. Paul Poirot of the FEE staff, in Toy, “Ideology and 
Conflict,” pp. 206-07. 

National Review and the Triumph of the New Right 


on a global military crusade. In the fall of 1956, Flynn submitted 
an article to National Review attacking the Cold War crusade, and 
charging, as he had in the 1940s, that militarism was a “job-mak- 
ing boondoggle,” whose purpose was not to defend but to bolster 
“the economic system with jobs for soldiers and jobs and profits in 
the munitions plants.” Presenting figures for swollen military 
spending between the start of Roosevelt’s war buildup in 1939 and 
1954, Flynn argued that the economy no longer consisted of a 
“socialist sector” and a “capitalist sector.” Instead, Flynn warned, 
there was only the “racket” of military spending, “with the soldier- 
politician in the middle — unaware of the hell-broth of war, taxes 
and debt.” The Eisenhower administration, Flynn charged, was no 
better than its Democratic predecessors; the administration is 
spending $66 billion a year, most going for “so-called ‘national 
security’” and only a “small fraction” spent on “the legitimate 
functions of government.” 

A fascinating interchange followed between Buckley and Flynn. 
Rejecting Flynn’s article in a letter on October 22, 1956, Buckley 
had the unmitigated chutzpah to tell this veteran anti-Conununist 
that he didn’t understand the nature of the Soviet military threat, 
and condescendingly advised him to read William Henry Cham- 
berlin’s latest pot-boiler in National Review describing “the differ- 
ence in the nature of the threat posed by the Commies and the 
Nazis.” Trying to sugar-coat the pill, Buckley sent Flynn $100 
along with the rejection note. The next day, Flynn returned the 
$100, sarcastically adding that he was “greatly obliged” to Buckley 
for “the little lecture.” 

In this way, Buckley used the same argument for depriving 
Flynn of a publishing outlet that Bruce Bliven and the war liberals 
had employed when ousting Flynn from the New Republic in the 
1940s. In both cases Flynn was accused of overlooking the alleged 
foreign threat to the United States, and in both cases Flynn’s 
attempted answer was to stress that the real menace to American 
liberties was militarism, socialism, and fascism at home, imposed in 
the name of combating an alleged foreign threat. Flynn denied the 
existence of a Soviet military threat, and warned prophetically that 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

the executive branch of the government was about to involve us in 
a futile war in Indo-China . 19 

Virtually the only published echo of the Old Right was a book 
by the redoubtable Felix Morley who, in the course of decrying the 
modern New Deal and post-New Deal destruction of federalism 
by strong central government, roundly attacked the developing 
and existing American Empire and militarism . 20 

Meanwhile, National Review's image of me was that of a lovable 
though Utopian libertarian purist who, however, must be kept 
strictly confined to propounding laissez-faire economics, to which 
National Review had a kind of residual rhetorical attachment. 
There was even talk at one time of my becoming an economic 
columnist for National Review. But above all I was supposed to stay 
out of political matters and leave to the warmongering ideologues 
of National Review the gutsy real-world task of defending me from 
the depredations of world Communism, and allowing me the lux- 
ury of spinning Utopias about private fire-fighting services. I was 
increasingly unwilling to play that kind of a castrate role. 

i; On Buckley’s rejection of the Flynn article, see Ronald Radosh, 
Prophets on the Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of American Globalism 
(New York: Simon and Schuster, 1975), pp. 272-73; and Radosh, 
“Preface,” in John T. Flynn, As We Go Marching (New York: Free Life 
Editions, 1973), pp. xiv-xv. 

i0 Felix Morley, Freedom and Federalism (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 
1959), especially the chapters “Democracy and Empire,” “Nationalization 
through Foreign Policy,” and “The Need for an Enemy.” 


The Early 1960s: 
From Right to Left 

M y total break with National Review and the right wing, 
my final emotional divorce from thinking of myself as a 
right winger or an ally of the Right, came around 1 960. 
The break was precipitated by Khrushchev’s visit to the United 
States in late 1959. During the torpid Eisenhower years of the late 
1950s, when foreign affairs were in a frozen deadlock and when the 
American Left had all but disappeared, it was easy not to put the 
peace issue at the forefront of one’s consciousness. But the 
Khrushchev visit was, for me, an exciting and welcome sign of a 
possible detente, of a break in the Cold War dike, of a significant 
move toward ending the Cold War and achieving peaceful coexis- 
tence. Hence I enthusiastically favored the visit; but at the same 
time National Review became hysterical at the very same possibil- 
ity, and in conjunction with the still-secret John Birch Society, 
tried desperately to whip up public sentiment to disrupt the visit. 

The New Rightist clamor continued in opposition to the sum- 
mit conference of early 1960, which I had hoped would build on 
the good will of the preceding Khrushchev visit. I was particularly 
incensed at the demagogic argument used by National Review that 
we must not Shake the Hand of the Bloody Butcher of the Ukraine 
(Khrushchev); in a tart exchange of letters with Buckley, I pointed 
out that National Review had always revered Winston Churchill, 
and was proud to Shake His Hand, even though Churchill was 
responsible for far more slaughter (in World Wars I and II) than 
Khrushchev had ever been. It was not an argument calculated to 



The Betrayal of the American Right 

endear me to National Review: libertarianism was threatening to 
expand from discussion of fire departments to war and peace! 

By this time the New York libertarian movement had been vir- 
tually reduced to two: Leonard Liggio and myself; and I was even 
more isolated than when the decade had begun, for now the entire 
right wing had been captured from within by its former enemy: 
war and global intervention. The old Circle Bastiat had disap- 
peared of attrition, as some members left town for graduate school 
and others surrendered to the blandishments of the New Right. 
And whatever libertarians remained in isolated pockets throughout 
the country were too benumbed to offer any resistance whatever to 
the New Right tide. 

It was time to act; and politically, my total break with the Right 
came with the Stevenson movement of 1960. In 1956 I had been 
for Stevenson over Eisenhower, but only partly for his superior 
peace position; another reason was to try to depose the Republican 
“left” so as to allow the Old Right to recapture the party. Emo- 
tionally, I was then still a right-winger who yearned for a rightist 
third party. But now the third party lure was dead; the Right was 
massively Goldwaterite. And besides, Stevenson’s courageous 
stand on the U-2 incident — his outrage that Eisenhower had 
wrecked the summit conference by refusing to make not only a 
routine, but a morally required apology for the U-2 spy incursion 
over Russia — made me a Stevensonian. Politically, I had ceased 
being a right-winger. I had determined that the crucial issue was 
peace or war; and that on that question the only viable political 
movement was the “left” wing of the Democratic Party. By consis- 
tently following an antiwar and isolationist star, I had shifted — or 
rather been shifted — from right-wing Republican to left-wing 

It was, of course, a mighty emotional wrench for “right-wing 
libertarians” to make; and as far as I know, there were only three 
of us who leaped over the wall to emotional left-wing Democracy: 
myself, Leonard Liggio, and former Circle member Ronald 
Hanrowy, who had gone on to graduate school at the University of 

The Early 1960s: From Right to Left 


I was not politically active in the drive for the Stevenson nom- 
ination, but a strange concatenation of events was to thrust me into 
a prominent role among Stevensonians in New York. After 
Kennedy was able to scotch the Stevenson drive for the nomina- 
tion at the Democratic convention, I saw a tiny ad in the New York 
Post for a Stevenson Pledge movement: an attempt by particularly 
embittered Stevensonians to try to force Kennedy to pledge that 
he would make Adlai Secretary of State. On going to the meeting, 
which included the eventually famous campaign manager Dave 
Garth, I suddenly found myself a leader in a new political organi- 
zation: the League of Stevensonian Democrats (LSD), headed by 
the charismatic John R. Kuesell, who was soon to become promi- 
nent in the Reform Democratic movement in New York . 1 We held 
out for a Stevenson pledge as long as we could; and then, when not 
forthcoming, we took our stand firmly for Kennedy against 
Richard Nixon, a political figure whom I had always reviled as (a) 
a Republican “leftist,” (b) an opportunist, and (c) a warmonger, if 
not, however, as consistent and dedicated a warmonger as the New 
Right . 2 

An amusing incident symbolized my political shift from Right 
to Left, while continuing to advance libertarianism. Wearing my 
extreme right-wing hat, I published a letter in the Wall Street Jour- 
nal urging genuine conservatives not to vote for Richard Nixon, so 
as to allow conservatives to regain control of the Republican Party. 
When Kuesell saw the letter, he reasonably concluded that I was 
some sort of right-wing spy in the LSD, and was set to expel me 
from the organization. Coming in to see him, I was prepared to 
give him an hour lecture on libertarianism, on my hegira from 
right to left, and so on. As it happened, I was only able to get a few 

'Coincidentally, one of the leaders of the League, economist Art 
Carol, has in recent years become a laissez-faire libertarian, and now leads 
the libertarian movement at the University of Hawaii. 

2 On Nixon, there was a division in National Review, the more prag- 
matic and opportunistic types, such as Buckley, Rusher, and Burnham, 
were ardently for Nixon once the nomination was secured; but the more 
principled types, such as Meyer and Bozell, were always reluctant. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

words out of my mouth. “You see,” I began, “I’m a . . . ‘libertar- 
ian’.” Kuesell, always quick on the mark, immediately cut in. “Say 
no more,” he said, “I’m a libertarian, too.” He immediately showed 
me a pamphlet he had written in high school, Quo Warranto?, chal- 
lenging government on their right to interfere with people’s lives 
and property. Since the word and concept of libertarian were 
scarcely household words, especially in that era, I was utterly 
astonished. From then on, Kuesell and I worked in happy tandem 
in the LSD until it withered away after the start of the Kennedy 
administration. This experience confirmed my view that left-wing 
Democracy rather than right-wing Republicanism was now the 
natural field for libertarian allies. 

As one of the theoreticians of the League of Stevensonian 
Democrats, I became head of its National and International Affairs 
Committee, and as such managed to write and push through a 
platform for the League that was totally libertarian, since I con- 
centrated on civil liberties and opposition to war and conscription. 

Meanwhile, libertarianism itself was essentially isolated and 
“underground.” Harry Elmer Barnes could publish his call for 
revisionism of all world wars, including the Cold War, only in the 
pages of the obscure left-pacifist magazine Liberation during 1958 
and 1959; on the basis of this I struck up a correspondence and 
friendship with Barnes that lasted to the end of his life. In Chicago, 
former Circle Bastiat members Ron Hamowy and Ralph Raico 
helped found a new student quarterly, New Individualist Review, in 
early 1961, which quickly became the outstanding theoretical jour- 
nal in the student conservative moment; however, its whole modus 
operand li was a commitment to the now-outmoded conservative- 
libertarian alliance. Hence it could not serve as a libertarian organ, 
especially in the crucial realm of foreign policy. 

Ron Hamowy, however, managed to publish in NIR a blister- 
ing critique of the New Right, of National Review, its conservatism 
and its warmongering, in a debate with Bill Buckley. Hamowy, for 
the first time in print, pinpointed the betrayal of the Old Right at 
the hands of Buckley and National Review. Hamowy summed up 
his critique of National Review doctrines: 

The Early 1960s: From Right to Left 


They may be summed up as: (1) a belligerent foreign policy 
likely to result in war; (2) a suppression of civil liberties at 
home; (3) a devotion to imperialism and to a polite form of 
white supremacy; (4) a tendency towards the union of Church 
and State; (5) the conviction that the community is superior 
to the individual and that historic tradition is a far better 
guide than reason; and (6) a rather lukewarm support of the 
free economy. They wish, in gist, to substitute one group of 
masters (themselves) for another. They do not desire so much 
to limit the State as to control it. One would tend to describe 
this devotion to a hierarchical, warlike statism and this fun- 
damental opposition to human reason and individual liberty 
as a species of corporativism suggestive of Mussolini or 
Franco, but let us be content with calling it “old-time con- 
servatism,” the conservatism not of the heroic band of liber- 
tarians who founded the anti-New Deal Right, but the tradi- 
tional conservatism that has always been the enemy of true 
liberalism, the conservatism of Pharonic Egypt, of Medieval 
Europe, of Metternich and the Tsar, of James II, and the 
Inquisition; and Louis XVI, of the rack, the thumbscrew, the 
whip, and the firing squad. I, for one, do not very much mind 
that a philosophy which has for centuries dedicated itself to 
trampling upon the rights of the individual and glorifying the 
State should have its old name back. 3 

Buckley, in characteristic fashion, replied by stressing the pri- 
macy of the alleged Soviet threat, and sneered at the libertarian 
“tablet-keepers”: “There is room in any society,” Buckley wrote, 

for those whose only concern is tablet-keeping; but let them 
realize that it is only because of the conservatives’ disposition 
to sacrifice in order to withstand the enemy, that they are able 
to enjoy their monasticism, and pursue their busy little sem- 
inars on whether or not to demunicipalize the garbage col- 
lectors. 4 

3 Ronald Hamowy, National Review ’: Criticism and Reply,” New 
Individualist Review 1, no. 3 (November 1961): 6-7. 

4 William F. Buckley, Jr., “Three Drafts of an Answer to Mr. 
Hamowy,” ibid., p. 9. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Equally characteristically, Buckley concluded by accusing 
Harnowy (incorrectly, if that matters) of being a member of the 
Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE). (One Buckleyite 
wag wrote at the time: “I hear that Ron Elamowy is in-SANE.”) 1 
In his sparkling rebuttal, Hamowy declared: 

It might appear ungrateful of me, but I must decline to thank 
Mr. Buckley for saving my life. It is, further, my belief that if 
his viewpoint prevails and that if he persists in his unsolicited 
aid the result will almost certainly be my death (and that of 
tens of millions of others) in nuclear war or my imminent 
imprisonment as an “rm -American .” 5 6 

Because of the libertarian-conservative foreign policy split on 
New Individualist Review, however, the editors agreed among them- 
selves, as a result of the furor surrounding the Hamowy-Buckley 
debate, that nevermore would any statement whatever on foreign 
policy be published in the magazine. There was thus still no pub- 
lishing outlet for an isolationist-libertarian position. 

In early 1962, my last ties were cut with anything that might be 
construed as the organized right wing. The William Volker Fund, 
with which I had been associated for over a decade, and which had 
quietly but effectively served as the preeminent encourager and 
promoter of conservative and libertarian scholarship, suddenly and 
literally collapsed, and moved toward virtual dissolution. One of 

5 Actually, I attended one meeting of SANE around this time, in my 
search for a left-peace movement, and refused to join, rejecting it for its 
moderation, its concentration on such important but superficial issues as 
nuclear testing, and its egregious red-baiting. It was clear to me that 
SANE was not really opposed to the Cold War and certainly not to 
American imperialism. By this time, of course, I had given up even vol- 
untary red-baiting; for if the Communists are opposed to nuclear 
weapons and atomic war, then why not join with them and anyone else in 
opposing these evils? Since the New Right favored these measures, was- 
n’t it more of an Enemy than the Communists?) 

6 Hamowy, National Review’: Criticism and Reply.” 

The Early 1960s: From Right to Left 


the formerly libertarian members of the Volker Fund staff (Dr. 
Ivan R. Bierly) had become a fundamentalist Calvinist convinced 
of the need for an elite Calvinist dictatorship, which would run the 
country, stamp out pornography, and prepare America for the (lit- 
eral) Armageddon, which was supposedly due to arrive in a gener- 
ation. Bierly managed to convince Harold Luhnow, the head of the 
Fund, that he was surrounded on his staff by a nefarious atheist- 
anarchist-pacifist conspiracy. As a result, the president dissolved 
the Fund one day in a fit of pique.' 

The collapse of the William Volker Fund had even more fate- 
ful and grievous consequences than appeared on the surface. 
According to the terms of its charter, the Fund was supposed to be 
eventually self-liquidating, and so in the winter of 1961-62, the 
Volker Fund decided to take its $17 million of assets and to liqui- 
date by transferring them to a new organization, the Institute for 
Humane Studies (IHS), a scholarly libertarian think-tank to be 
headed by Baldy Harper. For the first time, then, a libertarian 
research organization would be endowed, and would not have to 
expend its energies scrambling for funds. When Mr. Luhnow had 
his sudden change of heart before the decision was made final, and 
closed the fund down, IHS, with Harper at the helm, was suddenly 
out on the street as a pure and lovable libertarian research organi- 
zation devoid of funding. For the rest of his life, Baldy Harper 
struggled on as head of IHS. 

Isolated as we were in New York, and having broken with the 
Right, Leonard Liggio and myself had plenty of time to re-examine 
our basic premises, especially in relation to where we really fit on 
the ideological spectrum. The lead was taken by Liggio, a brilliant 
young historian with a remarkably encyclopedic knowledge of his- 
tory, European and American. Actually, Leonard had always been 


There was a fitful attempt to revive the Volker Fund on the new ide- 
ological basis, but apparently the president began to be repelled or fright- 
ened by the new tendency, and the Fund ceased all activity. Because of 
publishing commitments, the splendid Volker Fund book series at Van 
Nostrand continued to be published into 1964. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

more astute than I vis-a-vis National Review. When the first issue of 
NR appeared, featuring an article by the notorious “Senator from 
Formosa,” William F. Knowland, Liggio resolved to have nothing 
to do with the magazine. 8 

In the first place, we began to rethink the origins of the Cold 
War that we had opposed for so long; we read the monumental 
work of D.F. Fleming, The Cold War and its Origins, and the semi- 
nal books of the founder of New Left historiography, William 
Appleman Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (1959) and 
The Contours of American Histoty (1961). And we concluded that 
our older isolationism had suffered from a fatal weakness: the 
implicit acceptance of the basic Cold War premise that there was a 
Russian “threat,” that Stalin had been partly responsible for the 
Cold War by engaging in aggressive expansion in Europe and Asia, 
and that Roosevelt had engaged in an evil “sellout” at Yalta. We 
concluded that all this was a tissue of myth; that on the contrary 
Russia had not expanded aggressively at all, its only “expansion” 
having been the inevitable and desirable result of rolling back the 
German invasion. That, indeed, the United States (with the aid of 
Britain) was solely responsible for the Cold War, in a continuing 
harassment and aggression against a Soviet Union whose foreign 
policy had been almost pathetic in its yearning for peace with the 
West at virtually any price. We began to realize that, even in East- 
ern Europe, Stalin had not imposed Communist regimes until the 
United States had been pressing it there and had launched the 
Cold War for several years. We also began to see that, far from 
Roosevelt “selling out” to Stalin at Yalta and the other wartime 
conferences, 9 that the “sellout” was the other way around: as 

8 The Knowland tie-in presumably reflected the pervasive influence of 
Alfred Kohlberg, China Lobbyist and a close friend of the magazine. 

; The situation at Yalta involved East European territory that was not 
ours to control; we of course did not condone the monstrous agreement 
to ship anti-Communist POWs held by the Germans back to the Soviet 
bloc against their will, or endorse the mass expulsion of Germans from 
Poland or Czechoslovakia. 

The Early 1960s: From Right to Left 


Stalin, in the vain hope of seeking peace with an implacably 
aggressive and imperialistic United States, repeatedly sold out the 
world Communist movement: scuttling the Communists of 
Greece in a sellout deal with Churchill; preventing the Commu- 
nist partisans of Italy and France from taking power at the end of 
the war; and trying his mightiest to scuttle the Communist move- 
ments of Yugoslavia and China. In the latter cases, Stalin tried to 
force Tito and Mao into coalition regimes under their enemies; 
and it was only the fact that they had come to power by their own 
arms and not in the wake of the Soviet Army that permitted them 
to take over by telling Stalin to go to hell. 

In short, we had come to the conclusion that the most astute 
analysis of the events of World War II and of the Communist 
movement was that of the Trotskyites; far from expanding vigor- 
ously in Europe and Asia, Stalin, devoted only to the national secu- 
rity of the Soviet Union, had tried his best to scuttle the world 
Communist movements in a vain attempt to appease the American 
aggressor. That Stalin had wanted only national security and the 
absence of anti-Soviet regimes on his borders was shown by the 
contrasting developments in Poland and Finland; in Poland, 
aggressive anti-Sovietism had forced Stalin to take full control; in 
Finland, in contrast, there had emerged the great statesman 
Paasikivi, who pushed a policy of conservative agrarianism at home 
and peace and friendship with the Soviet Union in foreign affairs; 
at which point Stalin was perfectly content to leave Finland at 
peace and to withdraw the Soviet army. 

In contrast to the uniformly peaceful and victimized policies of 
the Soviet Union, we saw the United States using World War II to 
replace and go beyond Great Britain as the world’s great imperial 
power; stationing its troops everywhere, presuming to control and 
dominate nations and governments throughout the world. For 
years, the U.S. tried also to roll back Soviet power in Eastern 
Europe; and its foreign policy was particularly devoted to suppress- 
ing revolutionary and pro-Communist movements in every country 
in the underdeveloped world. We saw too that the Soviet Union 
had always pushed for disarmament, and that it was the U.S. that 
resisted it, particularly in the menacing mass-slaughter weapons of 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

the nuclear age. There was no Russian “threat”; the threat to the 
peace of the world, in Europe, in Asia, and throughout the globe 
was the United States Leviathan. For years, conservatives and lib- 
ertarians had argued about the “external” (Russian) and the “inter- 
nal” (Washington) threats to individual liberty, with libertarians 
and isolationists focusing on the latter and conservatives on the 
former. But now we — Leonard and I — were truly liberated; the 
scales had fallen front our eyes; and we saw that the “external 
threat,” too, emanated from Washington, D.C. 

Leonard and I were now “left-wing Democrats” indeed on for- 
eign policy. But still more: we were chafing at the bit. Why was 
SANE ever so careful not to discuss imperialism? Why did it 
clearly favor the U.S. over the Soviet Union? We were now not 
only looking for an isolationist movement; we were looking for an 
anti-imperialist movement, a movement that zeroed in on the 
American Empire as the great threat to the peace, and therefore to 
the liberty, of the world. That movement did not yet exist. 

In addition to our re-evaluation of the origins and nature of the 
Cold War, we engaged in a thorough reassessment of the whole 
“left-right” ideological spectrum in historical perspective. For it 
was clear to us that the European Throne-and-Altar Conservatism 
that had captured the right wing was statisnr in a virulent and 
despotic form; and yet only an imbecile could possibly call these 
people “leftists.” But this meant that our old simple paradigm of the 
“left Communist/total government . . . right/no government” con- 
tinuum, with liberals on the left of center and conservatives on the 
right of center, had been totally incorrect. We had therefore been 
misled in our basic view of the spectrum and in our whole concep- 
tion of ourselves as natural “extreme rightists.” There must have 
been a fatal flaw in the analysis. Plunging back into history, we con- 
centrated on the reality that in the eighteenth and nineteenth cen- 
turies, laissez-faire liberals, radicals, and revolutionaries constituted 
the “extreme left” while our ancient foes, the conservatives, the 
Throne-and-Altar worshippers, constituted the right-wing Enemy. 

Leonard Liggio then came up with the following profound 
analysis of the historical process, which I adopted. 

The Early 1960s: From Right to Left 


First, and dominant in history, was the Old Order, the ancien 
regime , the regime of caste and frozen status, of exploitation by a 
war-making, feudal or despotic ruling class, using the church and 
the priesthood to dupe the masses into accepting its rule. This was 
pure statism; and this was the “right wing.” Then, in seventeenth- 
and eighteenth-century Western Europe, a liberal and radical 
opposition movement arose, our old heroes, who championed a 
popular revolutionary movement on behalf of rationalism, individ- 
ual liberty, minimal government, free markets and free trade, 
international peace, and separation of Church and State — and in 
opposition to Throne and Altar, to monarchy, the ruling class, 
theocracy, and war. These — “our people” — were the Left, and the 
purer their libertarian vision the more “extreme” a Left they were. 

So far, so good, and our analysis was not yet so different from 
before; but what of socialism, that movement born in the nine- 
teenth century which we had always reviled as the “extreme left”? 
Where did that fit in? Liggio analyzed socialism as a confused mid- 
dle-of-the road movement, influenced historically by both the lib- 
ertarian and individualist Left and by the conservative-statist 
Right. From the individualist Left the socialists took the goals of 
freedom: the withering away of the State, the replacement of the 
governing of men by the administration of things (a concept 
coined by the early nineteenth-century French laissez-faire liber- 
tarians Charles Comte and Charles Dunoyer), opposition to the 
ruling class and the search for its overthrow, the desire to establish 
international peace, an advanced industrial economy and a high 
standard of living for the mass of the people. From the conserva- 
tive Right the socialists adopted the means to attempt to achieve 
these goals: collectivism, state planning, community control of the 
individual. But this put socialism in the middle of the ideological 
spectrum. It also meant that socialism was an unstable, self-con- 
tradictory doctrine bound to fly apart rapidly in the inner contra- 
diction between its means and its ends. And in this belief we were 
bolstered by the old demonstration of my mentor Ludwig von 
Mises that socialist central planning simply cannot operate an 
advanced industrial economy. 


The Betrayal of the America n Right 

The Socialist movement had, historically, also suffered ideo- 
logically and organizationally from a similar inner contradiction: 
with Social Democrats, from Engels to Kautsky to Sidney Hook, 
shifting inexorably rightward into accepting and strengthening the 
State apparatus and becoming “left” apologists for the Corporate 
State, while other socialists, such as Bakunin and Kropotkin, 
shifted leftward toward the individualist, libertarian pole. It was 
clear, too, that the Communist Party in America had taken, in 
domestic affairs, the same “rightward” path — hence the similarity 
which the “extreme” red-baiters had long discerned between 
Communists and liberals. In fact, the shift of so many ex-Commu- 
nists from left to the conservative Right now seemed to be not very 
much of a shift at all; for they had been pro-Big Government in the 
1930s and “Twentieth Century American” patriots in the 1940s, 
and now they were still patriots and statists. 

From our new analysis of the spectrum we derived several 
important corollaries. One was the fact that alliance between lib- 
ertarians and conservatism appeared, at the very least, to be no 
more “natural” than the older alliance during the 1900s and 1920s 
between libertarians and socialists. Alliances now seemed to 
depend on the given historical context. 10 Second, the older intense 
fear of Marxian socialism seemed inordinate; for conservatives had 
long ignored Mises’s demonstration of the inevitable breakup of 
socialist planning, and had acted as if once a country had gone 
socialist, then that was the end, that the country was doomed and 
the process irreversible. But if ours — and Mises’s — analysis was 
right, then socialism should fall apart before too many years had 
elapsed, and much more rapidly than the Old Order, which had 
had the capacity to last unchanged for centuries. Sure enough, by 

10 The relevant spectrum will, of course, differ in accordance with the 
critical issues that may be at stake in different historical situations. Thus, 
while near each other on the ideological spectrum on the issue of statism 
and centralized government, the individualist is at opposite poles from 
the left-wing Bakunin-Kropotkin anarchist on such an issue as egalitari- 
anism and private property. 

The Early 1960s: From Right to Left 


the early 1 960s we already had seen the inspiring development of 
Yugoslavia, which after its break from Stalin had evolved rapidly 
away from socialism and central planning and in the direction of 
the free market, a course which the rest of Eastern Europe and 
even Soviet Russia were already beginning to emulate. And yet in 
contrast, we saw to our chagrin that even the most economic- 
minded of the New Right were so caught up in their hysterical 
anti-Communism that they refused to greet or even acknowledge 
the breakup of socialism in Eastern Europe. This blind spot was 
obviously connected with the conservatives’ long-time refusal to 
acknowledge the corollary breakup of the international Stalinist 
monolith within the Communist movement; for both of these 
insights would have weakened greatly the Right’s characteristic 
campaign of hysteria against the supposedly invincible and ever- 
expanding Communist world — an expansion that could, in its eyes, 
be checked only by nuclear war. 

Our analysis was greatly bolstered, moreover, by our becoming 
familiar with the work of domestic revisionism of an exciting group 
of historians who had studied under William Appleman Williams 
at the University of Wisconsin. Williams himself, in The Contours 
of American Histojj, Williams’s students who founded Studies on the 
Left in 1959, and particularly the work of Williams’s student 
Gabriel Kolko in his monumental Triumph of Conservatism (1963), 
changed our view of the twentieth-century American past, and 
hence of the genesis and nature of the current American system. 
From them we learned that all of us believers in the free market 
had erred in believing that somehow, down deep, Big Businessmen 
were really in favor of laissez-faire, and that their deviations from 
it, obviously clear and notorious in recent years, were either “sell- 
outs” of principle to expedience or the result of brainwashing and 
infusing of guilt into these businessmen by liberal intellectuals. 

This is the general view on the Right; in the remarkable phrase 
of Ayn Rand, Big Business is “America’s most persecuted minor- 
ity.” Persecuted minority, indeed! To be sure, there were charges 
aplenty against Big Business and its intimate connections with Big 
Government in the old McCormick Chicago Tribune and especially 
in the writings of Albert Jay Nock; but it took the Williams-Kolko 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

analysis, and particularly the detailed investigation by Kolko, to 
portray the true anatomy and physiology of the America scene. As 
Kolko pointed out, all the various measures of federal regulation 
and welfare statism, beginning in the Progressive period, that Left 
and Right alike have always believed to be a mass movement 
against Big Business, are not only backed to the hilt by Big Busi- 
ness at the present time, but were originated by it for the very pur- 
pose of shifting from a free market to a cartelized economy. Under 
the guise of regulations “against monopoly” and “for the public 
welfare,” Big Business has succeeded in granting itself cartels and 
privileges through the use of government. 

As for the liberal intellectuals, their role has been to serve as 
“corporate liberals,” as weavers of sophisticated apologies to 
inform the masses that the rulers of the American corporate state 
are ruling on behalf of the “common good” and the “general wel- 
fare.” The role of the corporate liberal intellectual in justifying the 
ways of the modern State to man is precisely equivalent to the 
function of the priest in the Oriental despotisms who convinced 
the masses that their Emperor was all-wise and divine. 

Liggio and I also focused anew on the crucial problem of the 
underdeveloped countries. We came to realize that the revolutions 
in the Third World were not only in behalf of national independ- 
ence against imperialism but also, and conjointly, against feudal 
land monopolists in behalf of the just ownership of their land by the 
long-oppressed peasantry. Genuine believers in justice and in pri- 
vate property, we concluded, should favor the expropriation of the 
stolen and conquered lands of Asia and Latin America by the peas- 
ants who, on any sort of libertarian theory, were and still are their 
proper and just owners. And yet, tragically, only the Communists 
have supported peasant movements; American or native “free 
enterprisers,” when they did not ignore the crucial land problem 
altogether, invariably and tragically came down on the side of the 
oppressive landlords in the name of “private property.” But the 
“private” property of these monopoly landlords is “private” only by 
virtue of State conquest, theft, and land grants; and any genuine 
believer in the rights of private property must then side with the 
drive of the peasants to get their land back. The peasants of the 

The Early 1960s: From Right to Left 


world are not socialists or communists; instinctively, they are indi- 
vidualists and libertarians, consumed with a perfectly understand- 
able passion to reclaim the right to own their own lands. The Zap- 
ata revolution in Mexico and the Reies Tijerina movement in the 
Southwest, are only the most clear-cut examples of the profoundly 
libertarian struggle of peasants to defend or reclaim their just 
property titles from loot and conquest at the hands of the central 
government. 11 

Isolated and alone, Leonard Liggio and I nevertheless set out 
on what seemed to be a superhuman threefold task: to advance the 
minuscule and scattered libertarian, anarcho-capitalist movement; 
to convert these libertarians at least to a solidly isolationist posi- 
tion; and finally, to try also to convert them to our newfound anti- 
imperialist and “left” or “left-right” perspective. On the libertarian 
front, there was one bright ray of hope: pacifist-individualist anar- 
chist (who calls himself an “autarchist”) Robert LeFevre had estab- 
lished a Freedom School in the Colorado Rockies in 1956, to sup- 
ply intensive two-week summer courses on the freedom philoso- 
phy. LeFevre had previously worked in New York for Merwin K. 
Hart’s National Economic Council, rising to vice-president, and 
then, in 1954, had moved out to Colorado Springs to be editorial 
page editor for R.C. Hoiles’s anarcho-capitalist daily Colorado 
Springs Gazette-Telegraph . Over the years, since 1956, LeFevre had 
built a remarkable record of converting a great many people, and 
especially young people, to the libertarian creed. And so, slowly, 
throughout the country, a growing libertarian cadre, graduates of 
the Freedom School, were emerging. As a dedicated pacifist, 
LeFevre was of course opposed to the war drive of the New Right, 
and said so in a 1 964 leaflet, Those Who Protest. 

With the help of a base of Freedom School graduates, we were 
able to rebuild a small circle in New York, this time dedicated to 
the “left-right” analysis. There was Edward C. Facey, Robert J. 

n For a definitive history of the Zapata revolution, incidentally mak- 
ing clear its libertarian goals, see John Womack, Jr., Zapata and the 
Mexican Revolution (N ew York: Knopf, 1969). 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Smith, who had been influenced by the Volker Fund and the Free- 
dom School, and Alan Milchman, whom we had managed to con- 
vert from his post as head of Brooklyn College YAF. And then 
there was the “first generation” of the libertarian youth movement 
at the University of Kansas, headed by Bob Gaskins and David 
Jackman. Gaskins and Jackman had been anarchists, but politically 
they had been “right-wing” laissez-fairists and they edited a maga- 
zine called The Standard. When Gaskins and Jackman moved to 
New York in late 1962 we were able to convert them to our per- 
spective, and the result was an all-peace issue of The Standard, 
April 1963, which included antiwar reprints from Chodorov, 
Mises, and others, and an article of my own, “War, Peace, and the 
State,” which greatly expanded and more firmly grounded my old 
Faith and Freedom derivation of isolationism and anti-imperialism 
from libertarian theory. 

In the winter of 1963-64, LeFevre organized a winter- and- 
spring long “Phrontistery” at Colorado to pave the way for trans- 
forming Freedom School into a Rampart College. To the Phron- 
tistery flocked some of the nation’s leading young libertarians, 
including Smith, Gaskins, Jackman, Peter Blake, and Mike Helm, 
many of whom formed for the first time in public an aggressive 
“Rothbardian” block that stunned the visiting conservative and 
laissez-faire dignitaries who had been invited to teach there. For 
the first time in public some of the group also unfurled the “black- 
and-gold flag,” the colors of which we had all decided best repre- 
sented anarcho-capitalism: black as the classic color of anarchism 
and gold as the color of capitalism and hard money. 

Meanwhile, on the larger political scene, things grew more dis- 
mal as the National Review game plan finally succeeded, and Barry 
Goldwater won the Republican nomination. I personally grew 
frantic; at long last, the fingers of my old National Review associates 
were getting close to the nuclear button, and I knew, I knew to my 
very marrow that they were aching to push it. I felt that I had to 
do something to warn the public about the menace of nuclear war 
that Goldwaterism presented; I felt like a Paul Revere come to 
warn everyone about the threat of global war that these people 
were about to loose upon the world. 

The Early 1960s: From Right to Left 


Second, I tried to hive off some conservative and libertarian 
votes from Goldwater by recalling to them their long-forgotten lib- 
ertarian heritage. In contrast to many “fair-play minded” liberals, I 
was not at all horrified at the famous Democratic TV spot show- 
ing a little girl picking flowers while a Goldwaterite nuclear explo- 
sion loomed to annihilate her. On the contrary, I rejoiced at what 
I believed to be, at last, a zeroing in on the true dimensions of the 
Goldwaterite menace. 

I could, however, play only a very small direct role in the stop- 
Goldwater crusade. The Standard was now defunct, and so the most 
I could do was to write in the Southern California anarcho-Ran- 
dian newsletter, The Innovator, warning the readers of Goldwa- 
terite war and fascism (which can be defined, after all, as global 
war, anti-Communist crusading, suppression of civil liberties, and 
corporate statism disguised in free-market rhetoric — which delin- 
eated the New Right). I succeeded, however, only in alienating the 
stunned readership . 12 I also addressed a group of veteran disciples 
of Frank Chodorov — the “Fragments” group — just before the 
election, denouncing Goldwaterism, and unaccountably found 
myself engaged in a lengthy defense of the foreign policies of 
Communist China as being pacific and nonaggressive — for wasn’t 
there at least a “Chinese menace”? The only result of my endeav- 
ors was to have half the audience brandishing their canes in my 
direction and shouting, “We haven’t voted in thirty years, but by 
God we’re going out next Tuesday and voting for Barry Goldwa- 
ter.” My only success was in greatly weakening the Goldwaterite 
enthusiasm of the Queens College libertarian movement, headed 
by Larry Moss and Dave Glauberman. Looking around also for 
some periodical, any periodical, in which to publish a critique of 

^ Among the Rightists, again it was doughty Felix Morley who, virtu- 
ally alone and unheeded, denounced the Goldwater movement in no 
uncertain terms as akin to the early days of the Nazi movement, as he had 
observed it in Germany. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

the transformation of the American Right from Old to New, from 
isolation to global war, I could find only the obscure Catholic 
quarterly Continuum . 1 3 For the Left was still defunct in America. 

13 Murray N. Rothbard, “The Transformation of the American 
Right,” Continuum 2 (Summer 1964): 220-31. 


The Later 1960s: 
The New Left 

F or years now, Leonard Liggio and I had been looking for a 
“left,” for an antiwar movement, with which we could ally 
ourselves. Then suddenly, as if by magic, the New Left 
emerged in American life, particularly in two great events: the 
Berkeley Free Speech Movement (FSM) of the fall of 1964, which 
inaugurated the campus movement of the 1960s; and the March on 
Washington of April 17, 1965, organized by the Students for a 
Democratic Society to protest the dramatic escalation of our war 
in Vietnam in February. The SDS march inaugurated the great 
anti- Vietnam War movement, which undoubtedly constituted the 
deepest and most widespread opposition in the midst of war since 
the conflict with Mexico in the 1840s. The opposition during 
World War I was strong, but isolated and brutally suppressed by 
the government; the isolationist movement of World War II col- 
lapsed completely as soon as we entered the war; and the Korean 
War never generated a powerful mass opposition. But here at last 
was an exciting, massive opposition to the war proceeding during 
the war itself! Another point that cheered Leonard and myself was 
that here at last was not a namby-pamby “peace” group like SANE, 
which always carefully balanced its criticism of the U.S. and of 
Russia, and which also took pains to exclude “undesirables” from 
antiwar activity; here was a truly antiwar movement which zeroed 
in on the evils of American war-making; and here was a movement 
that excluded no one, that baited neither reds nor rightists, that 
welcomed all Americans willing to join in struggle against the 



The Betrayal of the American Right 

immoral and aggressive war that we were waging in Vietnam. Here 
at last was an antiwar Left that we could be happy about! 

It is true that SDS, the unquestioned leader of this new antiwar 
movement, had been born in unfortunate circumstances; for it was 
originally and was then still officially the student arm of the social 
democratic League for Industrial Democracy, an old-line socialist 
and red-baiting organization that represented the worst of Old 
Left liberalism. But SDS was clearly in the process of breaking 
with its parentage. Not only was it militant on the war, but it was 
also no longer doctrinaire socialist — a pleasant change indeed from 
the Old Left. On the contrary, its ideology was vague enough to 
encompass even “right-wing libertarians.” In fact, there was a good 
deal of instinctive libertarian sentiment in that early SDS which 
was to intensify for the next several years. There was a new hunger 
for individual freedom, for self-development, and a new concern 
about bureaucracy and technocratic statism that boded well for 
SDS’s future. 

Thus, SDS was shaping up as instinctively quasi-libertarian 
even on “domestic” issues. This libertarianism was reinforced by 
the campus movement generated by the Berkeley Free Speech 
Movement. For hadn’t conservatives and libertarians for decades 
been bitterly critical of our state-ridden educational system — its 
public schools, compulsory attendance laws, and giant, imper- 
sonal bureaucratic training factories replacing genuine education? 
Hadn’t we long been critical of the influence of John Dewey, the 
emphasis on vocational training, the giant tie-ins of education 
with government and the military-industrial complex? And here 
was the New Left which, while admittedly inchoate and lacking a 
constructive theory, was at least arising to zero in on many of the 
educational evils that we had been denouncing unheeded for over 
a generation. If, for example, we take a New Left hero such as Paul 
Goodman and compare him with Albert Jay Nock on education, 
we see that from very different philosophical and cultural perspec- 
tives they were making very similar critiques of the mass training 
public school-compulsory attendance system. Without making 
light of the philosophical differences — particularly individualistic 

The Later 1960s: The New Left 


versus egalitarian underpinnings — both Goodman and Nock 
clearly attacked the problem from a libertarian perspective. 

It was therefore not an accident that a newly developing “right- 
wing libertarian” group at Berkeley, headed by the young graduate 
math student Danny Rosenthal, should have helped lead the Free 
Speech and allied movements. Rosenthal and his group, who 
founded the Alliance of Libertarian Activists in the Berkeley-San 
Francisco area and were also ardent Goldwaterites, fought along- 
side the New Left on behalf of freedom of speech and assembly, 
and in opposition to censorship and to the swollen bureaucratic 
establishment at Berkeley. Rosenthal also exerted considerable 
influence on the views of Mario Savio, the famous FSM leader, 
though Savio was of course also subject to socialistic influences and 

The emergence of the New Left persuaded Leonard and me 
that the time had come to act, to break out of our ideological and 
political isolation. Hence we founded, in the spring of 1965, the 
three-times-a-year journal Left and Right. The purpose of found- 
ing L&R was twofold: to influence libertarians throughout the 
country to break with the right wing and to ally themselves with 
the emerging New Left and try to push that left further in a liber- 
tarian direction; and second, to “find” the New Left ourselves as a 
group to ally with and possibly influence. The first issue of Left and 
Right had three lengthy articles which managed to touch all of the 
important bases of our new libertarian “line”: my own article, 
“Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty,” which set forth the 
Liggio analysis of the Left/Right historical spectrum; Liggio’s own 
“Why the Futile Crusade?” which brought back and portrayed the 
isolationist and anti-imperialist views of Senator Taft and the 
Taftite wing of the Republican Party; and Alan Milchman’s review 
of Fleming’s Origins of the Cold War which, for the first time, 
brought Cold War revisionism to a libertarian audience. 

In the second issue, in autumn 1965, I wrote an article hailing 
the substantial libertarian elements of the New Left (“Liberty and 
the New Left”). I praised the New Left for taking up important 
libertarian and Old Right causes: opposition to bureaucracy and 
centralized government; enthusiasm for Thoreau and the idea of 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

civil disobedience to unjust laws; a shift from Old Left compulsory 
racial integration to opposition to police brutality and what would 
soon be termed “black power” in black communities; opposition to 
urban renewal and to restrictive and monopolistic labor unionism; 
opposition to the Clark Kerr-type of modern educational bureau- 
cracy; and of course the total opposition to the American War in 
Vietnam. In addition to comparing the educational views of Good- 
man and Nock, I also pointed to the hopeful sign of Goodman (in 
his People or Personnel )’ favorably treating a free-market economy. 

The impact of Left and Right was remarkable, considering our 
paucity of subscribers and the total absence of funds. For one 
thing, we immediately had considerable impact on conservative 
and libertarian youth. Danny Rosenthal was converted to an isola- 
tionist position by Liggio’s article in the first issue; Wilson A. 
Clark, Jr., head of the Conservative Club of the University of 
North Carolina, abandoned conservatism for our position; and the 
entire YAF unit at the University of Kansas (the “second genera- 
tion” of libertarians there), headed by Becky Glaser, left YAF to 
form an SDS chapter on that campus. And Ronald Hamowy, by 
then a professor of history at Stanford, expounded our new “Left- 
Right” position in the New Republic, recalling the free market, civil 
libertarian, isolationist and anti-imperialist position of Old Right- 
ists Spencer, Bastiat, Sumner, and Nock, contrasting them to the 
New Right and the current partnership of government and big 
business, and lauding Paul Goodman and other aspects of libertar- 
ianism on the New Left . 1 2 

We were also interested in the new experiments which some of 
the New Left were conducting in alternative and “parallel institu- 
tions” in education, in particular the “Free University” movement 
which for a short while held promise as establishing “communities 

1 See Paul Goodman, People or Personnel (New York: Random House, 

"Ronald Hamowy, “Left and Right Meet,” The New Republic 154, no. 
11 (March 12, 1966), reprinted in Thoughts of the Young Radicals (New 
York: New Republic, 1966), pp. 81-88. 

The Later 1960s: The New Left 


of scholars” free from the bureaucratic and Establishment trap- 
pings of the American educational system. Through Left and Right 
and through Leonard Liggio’s teaching courses at the Free Uni- 
versity of New York on imperialism, we had the opportunity of 
meeting the bright young William Appleman Williams students in 
the New York area, in particular Jim Weinstein, Ronald Radosh, 
and Marty Sklar. This also launched Liggio’s role for several years 
as a leading New Left scholar-activist, as Leonard’s expertise in the 
history of foreign policy and of Vietnam led him to play a consid- 
erable part in the Vietnam Teach-In movement, in editing 
Leviathan, and Viet-Report, in becoming managing editor of the 
Guardian (from which he was purged for “taking the capitalist 
road” in trying to cut costs), and eventually in becoming head of 
the American branch of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation 
and aiding its great work in the War Crimes Tribunal. In those 
days, too, SDS, while totally opposed morally to the war in Viet- 
nam, was not yet anti-imperialist; and Leonard played a major role 
in advising the May 2nd Movement, which pioneered on the New 
Left in advancing an anti-American-imperialist perspective, one 
which SDS soon came to adopt. He also led in opposing what 
turned out to be the domination of M-2-M by the Maoist Pro- 
gressive Labor Movement, a domination which soon brought 
about the dissolution of the organization. 

Meanwhile, Left and Right continued to present our “left-right” 
perspective, concentrating on foreign policy and militarism but also 
covering other libertarian areas, and presenting a left-right spec- 
trum of authors: libertarians (the editors, philosophy professor 
“Eric Dalton,” Larry Moss, reprints of Lysander Spooner and Her- 
bert Spencer), Old Rightists and isolationists (Harry Elmer Barnes, 
Caret Garrett, William L. Neumann), leftists (Marvin Gettleman, 
Ronald Radosh, Janet McCloud, Russell Stetler, and Conrad Lynn), 
and free-market conservatives (Yale Brozen, Gordon Tullock). In 
particular, I hailed the decisive turn during 1966 of SDS toward an 
anti-imperialist and militantly antidraft position, and the final repu- 
diation of its social Democratic Old Guard. During 1966 and 1967, 
the libertarian elements of SDS grew in influence; there was a 


The Betrayal of the America n Right 

growth of the “Texas anarchists” in the organization, and a prolif- 
eration of buttons proclaiming “I Hate the State.” 3 4 

The high point of SDS and New Left interest in the “left-right” 
libertarian position came in the work of former SDS President 
Carl Oglesby. In 1967, Oglesby published Containment and Change, 
a critique of the Vietnam War and the American Empire. In his 
concluding pages on strategy, Oglesby called for an alliance with 
the Old Right. He called upon the libertarian, laissez-faire wing of 
the Right to abandon the conservative movement which held the 
libertarians in thrall by convincing them of the existence of a “for- 
eign threat.” Oglesby cited my article in Continuum, and quoted 
from the Old Right view on war and peace of General MacArthur, 
Buffett, Garrett, Chodorov, and Dean Russell. In particular, 
Oglesby cited Garrett at length, stating that his “analysis of the 
totalitarian impulse of imperialism” had been verified repeatedly 
over the intervening years. 

Oglesby concluded that libertarian right-wing thought, along 
with the black power movement and the anti-imperialist student 
movement, were all “rootedly American” and were 

of the grain of American humanist individualism and volun- 
taristic associational action; and it is only through them that 
the libertarian tradition is activated and kept alive. In a strong 
sense, the Old Ri^ht and the New Left are morally and polit- 
ically coordinate. 

But Oglesby prophetically warned that both the libertarian Right 
and the New Left could miss out on this alliance and conjunction, 
for the former could remain in thrall to the militarism and imperi- 
alism of the right-wing, while the latter could revert to a form of 

3 See “‘SDS’: The New Turn,” Left and Right (Winter, 1967). 

4 Carl Oglesby and Richard Shaull, Containment and Change (New 
York: Macmillan, 1967), pp. 166-67. 

The Later 1960s: The New Left 

19 7 

The peak of my political activity on the New Left came during 
the 1968 campaign. In the spring of 1968, my old enthusiasm for 
third party politics was rekindled, albeit in a different direction. 
The Peace and Freedom Party (PFP) which had become (and still 
is) established in California, decided to go national, and opened up 
shop in New York. I found that the preliminary platform and the 
only requirement for membership contained only two planks: the 
first was immediate U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, and the second 
was some plank so vague about being nice to everyone that almost 
anyone, left, right, center could have endorsed it. Great: here was 
a coalition party dedicated only to immediate withdrawal from 
Vietnam and requiring no commitment whatever to statism! As a 
result, our entire libertarian group in New York poured happily 
into the new party. 

The PFP was structured around clubs, most of them regional — 
such as the powerful West Side (of Manhattan) club, the hippie 
Greenwich Village Club, etc. One was occupational — a Faculty 
Club. Since there were very few actual faculty members in this very 
youthful party, the PFP generously widened the definition of “fac- 
ulty” to include graduate students. Lo and behold! On that basis, of 
approximately 24 members in the Faculty Club, almost exactly one- 
half were our people: libertarians, including myself, Leonard Lig- 
gio, Joe Peden, Walter Block and his wife, Sherryl, and Larry Moss. 
The legislative arm of the PFP was to be the Delegate Assembly, 
consisting of delegates from the various clubs. The Faculty Club 
was entitled to two delegates, and so we naturally divvied it up: one 
going to the socialists, and one to us, who turned out to be me. 

At the first meeting of the Delegate Assembly, then, here I was, 
only in the Party for about a week, but suddenly vaulted to top rank 
in the power elite. Then, early in the meeting, some people got up 
and advocated abolishing the Delegate Assembly as somehow 
“undemocratic.” Jeez! I was just about to get a taste of juicy political 
power, when some SOBs were trying to take it away from me! As I 
listened further, I realized that something even more sinister and of 
broader concern was taking place. Apparently, the New York party 
was being run by a self-perpetuating oligarchical executive commit- 
tee, who, in the name of “democracy,” were trying to eliminate all 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

intermediate social institutions, and to operate upon the party 
mass unimpeded, all in the name of “democracy.” To me it 
smacked of rotten Jacobinism, and I got up and delivered an 
impassioned speech to that effect. After the session ended, a few 
people came up to me and said that some like-minded thinkers, 
who constituted the West Side Club, were having a gathering to 
discuss these matters. So began our nefarious alliance with the 
Progressive Labor faction within Peace and Freedom. 

It later turned out that the PFP and its executive committee 
were being run, both in California and in New York, by the Lenin- 
ist-Trotskyite Draperites, International Socialists run by Berkeley 
librarian Hal Draper. The Draperites were the original Schacht- 
manites, Trotskyites who had rebelled against Trotsky as Third 
Camp opponents of both the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The New 
York party was being run by the Draperites, including as their 
allies a motley collection of assorted socialists, pacifists, counter- 
cultural druggies, and Left Libertarians. 

The opposition within PFP was indeed being run by the Maoist 
Progressive Labor Party (PL), who the Draperites feared were 
plotting a takeover. Actually, it soon became clear that PL had no 
such intention, but were only keeping their hand in, and were 
using the West Side Club to recruit candidate-members into PL. 
Both PL and the Draperites were keeping the structure loose while 
waiting for an expected flood of Gene McCarthy followers after 
Humphrey’s expected Democratic nomination victory — a flood 
that, of course, never materialized. Hence the loose ideological 
requirement, and the fact that the platform was up for grabs. The 
alliance between PL and us libertarians was highly useful to both 
sides, in addition to cooperating in fending off Draperite dictator- 
ship in the name of democracy. What PL got out of it was a cover 
for their recruiting, since no one could of course call us vehement 
antisocialists tools of Progressive Labor. What we got out of it was 
PL’s firm support for an ideological platform — adopted by our 
joint caucus — that was probably the most libertarian of any party 
since the days of Cleveland Democracy. The PL people were 
pleasantly “straight” and nondruggie, although quite robotic, 
resembling left-wing Randians. 

The Later 1960s: The New Left 


The great exception was the delightful Jake Rosen, the absolute 
head of PL’s fraction in the PFP. Rosen, bright, joyous, witty, and 
decidedly nonrobotic, knew the score. One of my fondest memo- 
ries of life in the PFP was of Jake Rosen trying to justify our lais- 
sez-faire platform to his Maoist dunderheads. “Fley, Jake, what 
does this mean: absolute freedom of trade and opposition to all 
government restrictions?” “Er, that’s the ‘antimonopoly coali- 
tion’.” “Oh, yeah.” Jake, with more sincerity, joined us in opposing 
guaranteed annual income plans; he considered them bourgeois 
and “reactionary.” About the only thing Jake balked at was our 
proposal that our caucus come out for immediate abolition of rent 
control. “Hey, fellas, look, I’d love to do it, but we have commit- 
ments to tenant groups.” Graciously, we let him off the hook. 

With his personality, I didn’t think Jake would last in PL. In 
addition he had already implicitly rebelled against party discipline. 
An obviously bright guy, Jake had accepted PL’s orders to be 
“working class” and became a construction worker; but he stub- 
bornly failed to obey orders and move from the hip, cosmopolitan 
West Side of Manhattan to Queens. (“Jake, no construction 
worker lives on the West Side.”) Indeed, a year or so after the 
breakup of the PFP, Jake left or was expelled from PL, and imme- 
diately went upwardly mobile, moving to Chicago and becoming a 
successful commodity broker. 

As the McCarthy people failed to come in, conflicts within the 
party became ever greater, and the New York PFP began having 
almost weekly conventions. In addition to the PL Draperite con- 
flict, the Communist Party set up its competing front in New York, 
the “Freedom and Peace Party” (FPP), the existence of which 
began to confuse everyone, including the Left. Trying to put down 
the schisms, the California Draperites sent to run the New York 
party the supposedly legendary organizer Comrade Carlos, a Chi- 
cano whom the Draperite wing found to be charismatic, and to 
whom the rest of us took a strong dislike.’ 

5 One memorable moment at one of the PFP conventions was the usu- 
ally phlegmatic Leonard Liggio leaping on a chair, and beginning the 
provocative chant: “Carlos Out! Carlos Out!” 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Although the PFP was clearly fizzling, the time finally came in 
late summer for nominations. The Draperites had decided on the 
ex-rapist Eldridge Cleaver for president, then head of the Black 
Panther Party. Cleaver displayed his contempt for the PFP by not 
showing up, and sending Black Panther sidekick Bobby Seale to 
sneer openly at his honkie admirers, who masochistically wel- 
comed every sign of Panther derision. No one opposed Cleaver for 
the nomination; and since the PL bloc abstained, and since my lib- 
ertarian colleagues did not make the early morning hour, it turned 
out that mine was the only vote cast against Eldridge Cleaver for 
president — not a bad legacy of my time on the New Left. For the 
U.S. Senate nomination, the veteran socialist-pacifist David 
McReynolds was the Draperite candidate, and I was persuaded to 
run against him to represent the PL-libertarian opposition. I 
agreed to run only because I knew darn well that there was no 
chance at all to defeat McReynolds. 

I did not envy McReynolds’s day in the sun. The Freedom and 
Peace Party was running a black candidate for Senate, and the Black 
Panthers did not wish to oppose a fellow Afro-American with the 
white McReynolds. The Black Panthers apparently pulled a gun on 
McReynolds, ordering him to withdraw his candidacy. What hap- 
pened after that is hazy; I don’t believe that McReynolds withdrew, 
but on the other hand I don’t believe that either of these people 
made it to the ballot — and the 1968 election turned out to be the 
end of the PFP (except in California) and the FPP And, oh yes, I 
heard later that Comrade Carlos had turned out to be a police agent. 

A coda: years later, I happened to run into McReynolds, at a 
meeting trying vainly to bring some people into libertarianism. Fie 
kept telling me mournfully: “You gave us a lot of trouble in ’68. A 
lot of trouble.” I was trying to be polite at this little gathering, so 
I didn’t tell him how delighted I was at his tribute. 

By the end of the 1960s, the New Left had unfortunately vin- 
dicated Carl Oglesby’s warning, and had abandoned its high lib- 
ertarian promise of the mid-’60s. Unstable and lacking a coherent 
ideology, SDS, in response to the Leninism and Stalinism of its 
Progressive Labor faction, itself reverted to these Old Left creeds, 
albeit in a still more radical and hopped-up form. Increasingly 

The Later 1960s: The New Left 


lured by the “counter-culture” and by anti-intellectualism gener- 
ally, the New Left increasingly ignored scholarship in favor of 
unthinking “action,” and the Free Universities faded away into 
scattered centers of avant-garde eurythmics and instruction in 
radio repair. 6 And educational reform increasingly turned into an 
attempt to destroy all intellectual and educational standards, and to 
replace content in courses by rap sessions about the students’ “feel- 
ings.” Finally, shorn of scholarship, of intellectuality, and of strate- 
gic perspective, the remnants of the New Left were to burn them- 
selves out in and disappear after the breakup of SDS in 1969 into 
an orgy of senseless and indiscriminate violence. Despairing of the 
entire American population as hopelessly bourgeois, the SDS rem- 
nants had disastrously concluded that all America — working class, 
middle class, or whatever — was The Enemy and had to be 
destroyed. By 1970 the New Left was effectively dead, and put out 
of its misery by Mr. Nixon’s masterstroke of repealing the draft 
that year. Deprived of worry about being drafted, the student ide- 
alists effectively ended their protest — though the war in Vietnam 
was to continue for several years. 

Looking back over the experiment of alliance with the New 
Left, it also became clear that the result had in many cases been 
disastrous for libertarians; for, isolated and scattered as these 

6 Another complete bust was the New Left ideal of “participatory 
democracy.” It sounded good: in an attractive contrast to the “coercive” 
system of majority rule, participatory democracy could agree on decisions 
only by means of persuasion and unanimous consensus. Voting was 
believed to violate minority rights. I still remember vividly the “board 
meetings” of the Free University of New York, where equal votes were 
cast by staff, unpaid faculty, and students alike. Since every decision, no 
matter how trivial, had to be attained by unanimous consent, the result 
was that the board meeting stretched on, indecisively and interminably, 
to become life itself. Those of us who left the meeting in the evening to go 
home were accused of “betraying the meeting.” It is not surprising that 
the Free University collapsed after a few years. 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

young libertarians were, the Clarks and the Milchmans and some 
of the Glaser-Kansas group were soon to become leftists in fact, and 
in particular to abandon the very devotion to individualism, private 
property rights, and the free-market economy that had brought 
them to libertarianism, and then to the New Left alliance, in the 
first place. We came to realize that, as Marxian groups had discov- 
ered in the past, a cadre with no organization and with no contin- 
uing program of “internal education” and reinforcement is bound 
to defect and melt away in the course of working with far stronger 
allies. The libertarian groupings would have to be rebuilt as a self- 
conscious movement, and its major emphasis would have to be on 
nourishing, maintaining, and extending the libertarian cadre itself. 
Only operatin gfrom such a cadre could we make strong and fruit- 
ful alliances with no danger to the libertarian movement itself. 

In the meanwhile, the Buckleyite right wing was progressively 
abandoning even its rhetorical devotion to libertarian ideals. For 
National Review and its associates had learned what they believed to 
be the lesson of the Goldwater rout; from that point on, the con- 
servative movement would shed itself of any and all “extremist” 
elements, whether in domestic or foreign affairs, and move in a 
“responsible” and “respectable” manner toward the seats of Power 
for which it had yearned for so many years. As the Pope, as well as 
the insult-comic of the movement, Bill Buckley presided over the 
excommunicating and purging from Conservatism of any and all 
elements that might prove embarrassing in its quest for 
respectability and Power: libertarians, Birchers, atheists, ultra- 
Catholics, Randians, anyone who might disturb Conservatism in its 
cozy sharing of political rule. Hence by 1968, with the exception 
of Frank Meyer who still adhered to Ronald Reagan, all conserva- 
tive doubts about the greatness and wisdom of Richard Milhous 
Nixon had been effectively stilled; and Bill Buckley was suitably 
rewarded by the Nixon administration with a post as member of 
the Advisory Commission of the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), 
our Ministry of Propaganda overseas. Buckley induced Frank 
Shakespeare, the conservative head of USIA, to hire National 
Review editor James Burnham to compile a list of deserving books 
to be placed in USIA libraries in foreign countries. Prominent on 

The Later 1960s: The New Left 


Burnham’s list were — surprise! surprise! — the works of both Burn- 
ham and Buckley who, wrote Burnham, is “one of the best-known 
writers of his generation.” 

In a perceptive review of one of Buckley’s later books, left-lib- 
eral Margot Hentoff noted and lamented the drift of Conservatism 
into joining the Establishment, the very Establishment which even 
National Review, in its early years, used to attack. As Mrs. Hentoff 

What happened to Mr. Buckley, along with the rest of us, was 
the breaking down of traditional ideological compartments, 
the blurring of traditional alliances and enmities. Not only 
did the old New Deal and New Frontier politics lose cre- 
dence with the left, but the left then walked off with the con- 
servative banners of nonintervention, freedom from govern- 
mental coercion, rugged individualism, decentralization, and, 
in some cases, racial separatism. . . . 

It appears that Mr. Buckley is beginning to take on the 
weight of middle-aged responsibility, sounding more often 
like a resilient prince of the Church than like a purifying 

Mrs. Hentoff concluded that Buckley had been moving “toward a 
rather awful kind of moderation. . . . He is now more aware of con- 
sequence, as he moves away from the absence of power, that con- 
dition which was his abiding charm.” 7 

Thus, apart from its abiding thirst for war, the existing (1971) 
right wing is scarcely distinguishable from old-style, conservative 
Liberalism. (And even on war the difference is really one of 
degree.) Apart from style, there is very little to distinguish, say, Bill 
Buckley from Sidney Hook, or Senator Tower from former Sena- 
tor Dodd, despite the latter’s more New Dealish voting record. On 
hawkish foreign policy, on aggrandizing militarism and the mili- 
tary-industrial complex, on crushing civil liberties and granting 


Margot Hentoff, “Unbuckled,” New York Review of Books, December 
3, 1970, p. 19. 


The Betrayal of the America n Right 

unchecked powers to the police, on aggrandizing Executive power 
and privilege — in short, on the major problems of our time, the 
Conservatives and Liberals are in broad agreement. And even their 
seeming disagreement on fr ee-market versus liberal economics has 
virtually disappeared in the implicit acceptance by both conserva- 
tives and liberals of the New Deal-Great Society Corporate State 
neo-Mercantilist Consensus. With his adoption of the Milton 
Friedman-Robert Theobald guaranteed income proposal, with his 
fight to bail out the SST (supersonic transport) program and Lock- 
heed, with his nationalization of the passenger-car industry to the 
hosannas of conservatives, liberals and the industry itself, Richard 
Nixon has completed the process of integrating the right wing into 
the post-New Deal consensus. As the Marxist historian Eugene D. 
Genovese has perceptively put it: “President Nixon’s right-wing 
liberalism is the counterpart of the Communist Party’s left-wing 
liberalism — that is, each advances solutions within the established 
consensus of liberal social policy .” 8 

And so we now face an America ruled alternately by scarcely dif- 
ferentiated conservative and liberal wings of the same state-corpo- 
ratist system. Within the ranks of liberalism there is a growing 
number of disaffected people who are increasingly facing the fact 
that their own credo, liberalism, has been in power for forty years, 
and what has it wrought? Executive dictation, unending war in 
Vietnam, imperialism abroad and militarism and conscription at 
home, intimate partnership between Big Business and Leviathan 
Government. An increasing number of liberals are facing this crit- 
ical failure and are recognizing that liberalism itself is to blame. 
They are beginning to see that Lyndon Johnson was absolutely cor- 
rect in habitually referring to Fran kl in Roosevelt as his “Big 
Daddy.” The paternity is clear, and the whole crew stands or falls 

Where, then, can disaffected liberals turn? Not to the current 
Right, which offers them only more of the same, spiced with a 

8 Eugene D. Genovese, “The Fortunes of the Left,” National Review 
22, no. 47 (December 1, 1970): 1269. 

The Later 1960s: The New Left 


more jingoistic and theocratic flavor. Not to the New Left, which 
destroyed itself in despair and random violence. Libertarianism, to 
many liberals, offers itself as the place to turn. 

And so libertarianism itself grows apace, fueled by split-offs 
from conservatism and liberalism alike. Just as conservatives and 
liberals have effectively blended into a consensus to uphold the 
Establishment, so what America needs now — and can have — is a 
counter-coalition in opposition to the Welfare -Warfare State. A 
coalition that would favor the short-term libertarian goals of mili- 
tant opposition to the Vietnam War and the Cold War generally, 
and to conscription, the military-industrial complex, and the high 
taxes and accelerated inflation that the state has needed to finance 
these statist measures. It would be a coalition to advance the cause 
of both civil liberty and economic freedom from government dic- 
tation. It would be, in many ways, a renaissance of a coalition 
between the best of the Old Right and the old New Left, a return 
to the glorious days when elements of Left and Right stood shoul- 
der to shoulder to oppose the conquest of the Philippines and 
America’s entry into World Wars I and II. Here would be a coali- 
tion that could appeal to all groups throughout America, to the 
middle class, workers, students, liberals, and conservatives alike. 
But Middle America, for the sake of gaining freedom from high 
taxes, inflation, and monopoly, would have to accept the idea of 
personal liberty and a loss of national face abroad. And liberals and 
leftists, for the sake of dismantling the war machine and the Amer- 
ican Empire, would have to give up the cherished Old Left-liberal 
dream of high taxes and Federal expenditures for every goody on 
the face of the earth. The difficulties are great, but the signs are 
excellent that such an anti-Establishment and antistatist coalition 
can and might come into being. Big government and corporate lib- 
eralism are showing themselves to be increasingly incapable of 
coping with the problems that they have brought into being. And 
so objective reality is on our side. 

But more than that: the passion for justice and moral princi- 
ple that is infusing more and more people can only move them in 
the same direction; morality and practical utility are fusing ever 
more clearly to greater numbers of people in one great call: for the 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

liberty of people, of individuals and voluntary groups, to work out 
their own destiny, to take control over their own lives. We have it 
in our power to reclaim the American Dream. 



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American Affairs 
American Mercury 

Atlantic Monthly 
Chicago Tribune 
Christian Economics ( CE) 

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Communist New Masses 


Daily Worker 

Die Rote Fahne 

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Essays on Libetty 

Faith and Freedom 


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Journal of Libertarian Studies 



Libertarian Forum 

Libertarian Republican 

Libertarian Review 

Liberty [Benjamin Tucker’s] 


Left and Right 
Masses and Mainstream 


The Betrayal of the American Right 


National Review 

National Guardian 

New Individualist Review 

New Leader 

New Republic 

New York Compass 

New York Herald-Tribune 

New York Joumal-American 

New York Mirror 

New York Times 

New York World-Telegram 

New York World-Telegram and Sun 

Plain Talk 




Santa Ana Register 
Saturday Evening Post 
Scribner's Commentator 
The Innovator 
The Standard 

Studies on the Left 

Warsaw Trylnma Ludu 

Public Documents 

Congressional Record, 80th Cong., 1 st sess. (June 6, 1947). 

Congressional Record, 80th Cong., 1 st sess. (March 18, 1947). 

Congressional Record, 80th Cong., 1 st sess. (March 28, 1947). 

Congressional Record, 82nd Cong., 1 st sess. (January 5, 1951). 

U.S. Congress. House. Special Committee to Investigate Tax Exempt 
Foundations and Comparable Organizations. Hearings Before the Special 
Committee to Investigate Tax Exe?npt Foundations and Comparable Organi- 
zations. 83rd Cong., 2nd sess., Parts 1 and 2 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. 
Government Printing Office, 1954). 


A Mencken Chrestomathy (Mencken), I3n 
AAA. See Agricultural Adjustment Act 
Acheson, Dean 

return to government, 37 
ADA. See Americans for Democratic 

Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), 

24, 47 

Alliance of Libertarian Activists, 193 
America First Committee, 38, 41, 42, 
43, 45, 53 

America’s Future, Inc., 57 
Americas Great Depression (Rothbard), ix 
American Affairs, 57 
American Legion, 65 
American Liberty League (Liberty 
League), 12, 26, 29 
American Mercury, 9, 25, 27, 36 
American Veterans Committee (AVC), 

Americans for Democratic Action 
(ADA), 88 

analysis, 57, 69, 71, 81, 83, 87, 134 

conversion ofMNR to, 74 
logical argument for, 74 
Andrews, T. Coleman, 142 
anti-Communism, 147 

conversion of libertarians to, 151 
spearheaded by ex-Communists, 149 
Anti-Imperialist League, 4, 5 


charge against Old Right, 42 
Apostles of Discord: A Study of Orga- 
nized Bigotiy and Disruption on the 
Fringes of Protestantism (Roy), 81 
Articles of Confederation, xii, xvii, 20 
As We Go Marching (Flynn), 47 
Ashby, Thaddeus, 139, 144 
Atkinson, Edward, 4 
Atlantic Monthly, 36 
Austrian Perspective on the History of 
Economic Thought, An (Rothbard), x 
Austrian School of economics, ix, 67, 

authors, libertarian 
women, xi, 59 

AVC. See American Veterans Com- 

Barnes, Harry Elmer, 9, 81, 170, 176 
“Liberal Viewpoint, The,” 35 
Baruch, Bernard M. 

role in NRA and AAA, 24 
Bastiat, Frederic, 58 
Beard, Charles A., 19, 35, 40, 47 
Behemoth (Neumann), 62 
Bell, Canon Bernard Iddings, 25 
Bell, Daniel 

New American Right, The, 155 
Bender, George, xiii, 88 
Benn, Ernest, 16 



The Betrayal of the American Right 

Bennett, John C., 81 
Berkeley Free Speech Movement (FSM), 

Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, 195 
Betrayal of the American Right, The 
origins of, xxi 
Bickel, Alexander, 167 
Bierly, Ivan R., 66, 80, 179 
big business 

aversion to laissez-faire, 185 
role in statism, 2 1 
Birkhead, Leon M., 41 
Black Panther Party, 200 
Blumert, Burt, xxiv 
Borah, William E., 4, 12, 33 
Bork, Robert, 167 
Bossard, James H.S., 120 
Bourne, Randolph, 5 
Bozell, L. Brent, 168 

McCarthy and His Enemies, 152 
Bricker Amendment, 139, 140, 147 
Bricker, John W., 139 
Bridges, Stiles, 93 
Bromfield, Louis 

Nezv Pattern for a Tired World, A, 127 
Bronx High School of Science, 145 
Browder, Earl, 54, 55 
Buckley, Priscilla 

former CIA agent, 161 
Buckley, William F., 137, 146, 202 
“Young Republican’s View, A,” 158 
former CIA agent, 161 
God and Man at Yale, 158 
McCarthy and His Enemies, 152 
Buffett, Howard, xiii, xiv, 88, 93 
Bureaucracy (Mises), 61 
Burnham, James, 202 

“The Third World War,” 167 
consultant for CIA, 161 
Butler, John Marshall, 82 
Butler, Smedley D., 33 

Carlson, John Roy (pseudonym of 
Avedis Derounian) 

Under Cover, 42 
Carnegie Foundation, 119 
Casey, William J., 162 
Catholics, 152, 159 

wing of New Right, 160 
Center for Libertarian Studies, iii 
Central Intelligence Agency. See CIA 
Challenge to Liberty (Hoover), 26 
Chamberlain, John, 150 
Farewell to Reform, 63 
Chamberlin, William Henry, 131, 170 
Chambers, Whittaker, 158 
Chiang Kai-shek, 90, 91, 138, 157 
Chicago Tribune, 39, 85, 93, 101, 118, 
121, 123, 146, 152, 170, 185 
China, People’s Republic. See Com- 
munist China 

Chinese (military forces), 95 
Chodorov, Frank, iv, 57, 69, 71, 81, 

82, 83, 87, 132, 145, 158 
“Along Pennsylvania Avenue,” 81 
“Return of 1940?, The,” 134 
“Socialism by Default,” 72 
“Taxation Is Robbery,” 69 
“War to Communize America, A,” 

opposition to Red-baiting, 162 
sacking of for anti-war position, 36 
Christian Economics, 82 
Christian Freedom Foundation, 82 
Chronicles, xxiv 
Churchill, Winston 

compared with Khrushchev, 173 
Churchill, Winston S., 89 
CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), 161 
CIO. See Congress of Industrial Orga- 

Circle Bastiat, 145, 156, 168, 174 

Civil War, 59 

Clark, Jr., Wilson A., 194 



class warfare, 20 
classes, antagonistic 
state as creator of, 2 1 
Clay, Henry, xiv 
Cleaver, Eldridge, 200 
Cobden Club, 145 
Cobden, Richard, xiv, 4, 148 
Cohn, Roy, 156 
Cold War 

acceptance among libertarians, 127 

as imperialism, 103 

criticism of, xiii 

launch of, 86 

origins of, 180 

support of journalists for, 131 
Cold War and its Origins, The (Flem- 
ing), 180 

“Collective security” campaign of 
Soviet Union, 34 
College Young Republicans, 167 
Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph , 187 
Columbia College, 73 
Columbia Graduate School, 65 
Columbia University, 56 
Commercial and Financial Chronicle, 87 
Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy 
(SANE), 178 

Committee for Constitutional Gov- 
ernment, 57, 87 
Commonweal, 158 

Commonwealth Edison Company, 58 
Communist China, 130, 131 
Communist New Masses, 63 
Communist Party, 40, 46, 52, 54, 57, 
63, 92 

attack on isolationists, 34 
attitude of toward New Deal, 24 
Conceived in Liberty (Rothbard), ix 

attempt of to retain war powers, 94 
delegation of powers to executive 
by, 105 

Congress for Cultural Freedom, 161 
Congress of Freedom, 139 
Congress of Industrial Organizations 
(CIO), 55 

Conscience of a Conservative, The (Gold- 
water), 168 
conscription, 87, 139 
opposition to, 195 
peacetime, 48 

consistent philosophy of, 1 
joining Establishment of, 203 

adoption of label by right, 165 
movement, ix, xv 

Conservative Mind, The (Russell), 164 
Constitution Party, 141 
Constitution, U.S., 19 
Containment and Change (Oglesby), 196 
Continuum , xi, xxiii, 190, 196 
Contours of American History, The 
(Williams), 180 
Cornell University, 66, 80 
Cornuelle, Herbert C., 67, 68, 80, 81 
Cornuelle, Richard “Dick,” 76, 80, 145 
Council on Foreign Relations, 119 
Courtney, Kent, 141 
Courtney, Phoebe, 141 
Curtiss, William Marshall, 66 

Communist “takeover” of, 90 

D’Antonio, Emile 
Point of Order, 153 
Daily Worker, 152 
Davis, Forrest, 151 
Davis, John W. 

Mencken’s opinion of, 17 
debt, public 

imperative to repudiate, 7 1 
DeHuszar, George B., 120 


Dennis, Lawrence, 46 
Derounian, Avedis 

pseudonym John Roy Carlson, 42 
Dewey, John, 28 
Dewey, Thomas E., 38, 86 
Dies Committee, 150 
Dilling, Elizabeth, 33 
Dirksen, Everett, 122 
Discovery of Freedom, The (Lane), 59 
Dodd, Norman, 119 
Dos Passos, John, 40, 55 
Draper, Hal, 198 
Draperites, 198 

drags, hallucinogenic, 144 
Dulles, John Foster, 91, 100, 124 

early individualism 

as origin of Old Right, 3-8 
Economic Council Review of Books, 57, 68 

egalitarianism in, 29 
Eisenhower, Dwight, 122, 124 
influence of Taft on, 126 

hallmarks of existence of, 105 
end of ideology 

liberal proclamation of, 155 
Espionage Act (1917), 45 
Essays on Liberty, 68 
Establishment (term) 

evolution of meaning of, 2 
Ethics of Liberty, The (Rothbard), ix 
Ettinger, Karl, 120 
ex-Communists, 159 

spearheading of anti-Communism, 

Executive Branch of government 
growth in power of, 29 

wing of New Right, 160 

The Betrayal of the American Right 
Fair Deal, 117 

Faith and Freedom, 81, 82, 130, 132, 

133, 143, 144 
demise of, 143 

Farewell to Reform (Chamberlain), 63 

American, 51 

perception of New Deal as, 23 
FBI. See Federal Bureau of Investiga- 

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 

FEE. See Foundation for Economic 

Fifield, James W., 81, 144 
Finer, Hermann 
Road to Reaction, 63 
Fleming, D.F. 

Cold War and Its Origins, The, 180 
Fleming, Tom, xxiv 
Flynn, John T., xi, 25, 35, 40, 57, 68, 87, 

As We Go Marching, 47 
expulsion from New Republic, 36 
predicts extension of New Deal to 
international affairs, 48 
predicts Vietnam War, 172 
Smear Terror, The, 42 
For A New Liberty (Rothbard), ix 
For America, 139 
foreign investments 

alignment of war views with, 38 
foreign wars 

U.S. involvement in, 139 
Formosa, 92 

threat of war over, 133 
Foster, William Z., 41 
Foundation for Economic Education 
(FEE), 66, 67, 73, 76, 82, 112, 118, 

134, 145, 146 
political action by, 68 
turn against anarchy, 78 




attacked for quantitative sociologi- 
cal studies, 119 
Fountainhead , The (Rand), 58 
Frankfurter, Felix, 167 
free markets 
morality of, 74 
Free Universities, 201 
“Free University” movement, 194 
Free University of New York, 195 
Freedom and Peace Party (FPP), 200 
freedom of the press, 122 
Freedom School, 187 
Freeman (magazine, 1920-24), 11 
Freeman , The, 133, 134, 135, 146, 150 
descent into innocuous desuetude 
of, 136 

Freeman, The, 84 
Friedman, Milton, xix 

“Roofs or Ceilings?,” 66 
Friends of Democracy, 41 
use of secret agents by, 42 
FSM. See Berkeley Free Speech Move- 

Fulton, William, 118 

line of National Review, 166 

Garrett, Caret, xi, 30, 43, 57, 147 
“Revolution Was, The,” 103 
“Rise of Empire, The,” 103, 130 
Garth, Dave, 175 
Gaskins, Bob, 188 
Glaser, Becky, 194 
Glauberman, Dave, 189 
God and Man at Yale (Buckley), 158 
God of the Machine, The (Paterson), 59 
Goldwater, Barry, 188 

Conscience of a Conservative, The, 168 
nonconnection with Old Right, 123 
Gompers, Samuel, 5 

Goodman, Paul, 29, 192, 194 
People or Personnel, 194 
Government — An Ideal Concept (Read), 78 
Grattan, C. Hartley, 10 
Greaves, Jr., Percy L., 82 
Gresham’s Law, 61 
Growing Edge, 145 
Guardian, 195 

Hamilton, Charles, xxiv 
Hamowy, Ronald, 174, 176, 194 
Hanighen, Frank, 58, 137 
hard hats (political term), 1 
Harding, Warren G., 18 
Harper, F.A. “Baldy,” 63, 68, 77, 80, 179 
“Crisis of the Free Market, The,” 66 
“In Search of Peace,” 112 
Read breaks pledge to, 79 
Harper’s, 25 

Harriman, Henry I., 24 
Hart, Merwin K., 57, 187 
Haverford College, 58 
Hayek, Friedrich A., 67, 119 
Road to Seifdom, The, 62 
Hays, Wayne, 119, 121 
Hazlitt, Henry, 150 

support for New Right foreign 
policy, 161 
Heard, Gerald, 143 
Hearst papers, 63 

Henry George School of New York, 
36, 53 

Hentoff, Margot, 203 
Herald-Tribune, 119 
Herbert, Aubrey (Rothbard nom de 
plume), 131 
Hertz, Ronnie, 122 
Hess, Karl, 137 
Hillenkoeter, Roscoe, 93 
Hiss, Alger, 137 
historical process, the, 182 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

History of Money and Banking in the 
United States , A (Rothbard), x 
Hitler, Adolf, 56 
Ho Chi Minh, 125 
Hobbs, Albert H., 119 
Hoiles, Raymond Cyrus, 58 
Hoover, Herbert, 82, 96 
Challenge to Liberty, 26 
opposition to, 12 

opposition to “internationalism,” 99 
shift to libertarianism, 26 
Hopkins, Harry, 137 
House Unamerican Affairs Commit- 
tee (HUAC), 149 

How Diplomats Make War (Neilson), 5 
Howard, Perry, 123 
HUAC. See House Unamerican Affairs 
Hughes, Frank 

Prejudice and the Press, 121 
Human Action (Mises), 73, 80 
Human Events, xxiv, 58, 81, 83, 101, 
134, 170 
demise of, 137 

ouster of Felix Morley from, 162 
Humphrey, George, 126 
Hunt, E. Howard, 161 
Hurley, Pat, 123 
Hutchins, Robert M., 121 
Hutchinson, Anne, 3 
Hutchinson, B.E., 118 
Huxley, Aldous, 143 

Ickes, Harold C., 41 
Imperial psychology, 108 

American, 130, 148 
euphemised as “internationalism,” 49 
opposition to, 4 
Independent Party, 141 

tenet of Old Right, 3 


change of association from left- 
wing to right, 25 
Ingebretsen, Jim, 143 
Innovator, The, xxiii, 189 
Institute for Humane Studies (IHS), 179 
Intercollegiate Socialist Society, 83 
Intercollegiate Society of Individual- 
ists, 83 

change of name and philosophy, 137 
Intercollegiate Studies Institute 

renamed from Intercollegiate Soci- 
ety of Individualists, 137 

euphemism for imperialism, 49 
inverventionism, ix 
American, xiv, xviii 

Impressible Rothbard, The (Rothbard), x 
Isherwood, Christopher, 143 

alignment with foreign invest- 
ments, 38 

and foreign New Deal, 33 
U.S. government’s efforts to sup- 
press, 45 

Ivy League Entente, 37 

Jackman, David, 188 
Jews, American 

pressure to enter war from, 43 
John Birch Society, 117, 173 
Johnson, Lyndon B. 

early views of Vietnam War, 126 
Johnson, William, 81, 130, 143 
Journal of Libertarian Studies, xi, xxiii 
Judd, Walter, 92, 123 

Keating, Kenneth, 89 
Kendall, Willmoore, 166 

conversion to Catholicism, 160 
Kennedy, Joseph P, 96 

opposition to “internationalism,” 97 



Kent School, 80 
Kephart, Bob, xxii 
Kershner, Howard E., 82 
Khrushchev, Nikita, 173 
Kirchwey, Freda, 35 
Kirk, Russell, 165 

Conservative Mind, The, 164 
Knowland, William, 123, 140 
Kolko, Gabriel 

Triumph of Conservatism, The, 29, 185 
Korean War, 87, 92, 93, 94 
Rothbard reaction to, 114 
opposition to by Old Right, 110 
permanent changes in American 
life wrought by, 106 
Kruckman, Arnold, 139 
Kuesell, John R., 175 

labor unions 

partnership with Big Business and 
Government, 118 

LaFollette Progressive Movement, 12 

LaFollette, Robert, 4, 151 

LaFollette’s Magazine, 5 

Lamborn, Ellis, 66, 76 

Lamont, Corliss, 93 

land reform, 186 

Lane, Rose Wilder, xi, 68 

Discovery of Freedom, The, 59 
Lausanne Conference, 18 
Law of Love and the Law of Violence, 

The (Tolstoy), 77 

“Law, Property Rights, and Air Polu- 
tion” (Rothbard), ix 
Lawrence College, 80 
League for Industrial Democracy, 192 
League of Nations, 6, 12, 23 
League of Stevensonian Democrats 
(LSD), 175 
Lee, Bracken, 142 
LeFevre, Robert, 139 
Those Who Protest, 187 


advocacy of World War II, 34 
alliance with in opposition to war, 1 1 
Left and Right, xxiii, 193, 205 
Lend-Lease Act (1941), 108 
Letter to Grover Cleveland (Spooner), 75 
Levellers, 3 
Leviathan, 195 
Levine, Isaac Don, 150 
Levitas, S.M., 155 
Liberation, 176 

acquisition of label by, 83 
Libertarian Forum, xxiii 
libertarian movement 
U.S., in 1959, 174 
Party platform, xv 
Libertarian Republican, xxiv 
Libertarian Review, xxii 
Libertarian Review Press, xxii 

alliances with other movements, 
184, 201 

growth of, xix, 205 
in postwar renaissance, 65 
libertarians and foreign policy 
postwar renaissance of, 103 
Liberty, 27, 75 
Life, 41 

Liggio, Leonard, 94, 145, 149, 174, 
179, 195 

Lindbergh, Charles A., 53 

called fascist by W. Winchell, 41 
charges of anti-Semitism against, 

Lindbergh, Sr., Charles A., 4 
Lindley, Ernest K., 151 
Logic of Action, The (Rothbard), x 
London School of Economics, 62 
Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, 
57, 66 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Lost Generation (authors), 7 
Luce, Henry, 41 
Luhnow, Harold W., 67, 68 
dissolves Volker Fund, 179 

MacArthur, Douglas, 107, 133, 141 
Macdonald, Dwight, 58 
Making Economic Sense (Rothbard), x 
Man, Economy, and State (Rothbard), ix, 

Manchester School, 4 
Manion, Clarence, 139 
Manly, Chesly, 123 
Marine Corps, 3 3 
Marshall Plan, xiii, 90 
launch of, 86 
Marshall, Alfred, 73 
Marx, Karl 

comparison with Nock-Oppen- 
heimer, 20 

Masses and Mainstream, 131 
Matthews, J.B., 150, 152 
May 2nd Movement, 195 
Mayer, Milton, 43 
McCarran Act, 149, 151 
McCarthy and His Enemies (Bozell and 
Buckley), 152 

McCarthy Committee, 156 
McCarthy, Eugene, 199 
McCarthy, Joseph P, 41, 82, 151 
McCarthyism, 154 
as Populism, 154 

McCormick, Robert E., xi, 118, 146 
McCormick, Robert R., 39, 85, 170 
McMurray, Howard J., 152 
McReynolds, David, 200 
Memoirs of a Superfluous Man (Nock), 60 
Mencken Chrestoniathy, A (Mencken), 

Mencken, H.L., xi, 9, 53 
as elitist, 28 

Credo, 15 

description of the state, 1 3 
Mencken Chrestomathy, A, 73 
retirement, 25 

sacking of for anti-war position, 36 
Merchants of Death, The (Hanighen), 58 
Meyer, Frank S., 1, 63, 169, 202 

belief that National Review was CIA 
front, 161 

conversion to Catholicism, 160 
vision of devastated Soviet Union, 

Milchman, Alan, 193 
Milione, E. Victor, 137 
militarism, 48 

opposition to by Old Right, 110 
Miller, Loren (Red), 66 
Mises Seminar, 145 
Mises, Ludwig von, xiv, 67, 73, 82, 
Bureaucracy, 61 
Human Action, 80 
Omnipotent Government, 61 
Socialism, 150 

Morality of free markets, 74 
Morgan, J. Pierpont, 17, 18 
Morgenstern, George 

Pearl Harbor: Story of a Secret War, 

Morley, Felix, xi, xxiv, 58, 101, 137, 
146, 170, 172 

ouster from Human Events, 162 
Morrow, Anne 

opposition to war, 44 
Moss, Larry, 189 
Mullendore, William C., 57, 144 
Munger, Bob, 145 
Myth of a Guilty Nation (Nock), 5 

NAM. See National Association of 



Nation , 5, 10, 39, 88, 93, 100, 131 
conversion to left-wing viewpoints, 

expulsion of Osward Garrison Vil- 
lard from, 35 

National Association of Broadcasters, 44 
National Association of Manufactur- 
ers (NAM), 117, 118 
National Council Against Conscrip- 
tion, 87 

National Economic Council, 57, 187 
National Industrial Conference 
Board, 57, 66 

National Labor Relations Board 
(NLRB), 118 

National Recovery Act (NRA), 24, 47 
National Review, xxi, 86, 133, 146, 150, 
152, 158, 159, 164, 165, 167, 168, 
188, 202 

“fusionism” of, 166 
and triumph of New Right, 147-72 
Catholic aura at, 160 
Rothbard’s relationship with, 169 
Rothbard’s break with, 173 
spurned by Leonard Liggio, 180 
takeover of conservatism by, xxii 
National Review (magazine), 1 
National Steel Corporation of Pitts- 
burgh, 130 

National Young Republican Federa- 
tion, 167 

NATO. See North Atlantic Treaty 
natural aristocracy, 28 

as variant of socialism/collectivism, 

Neilson, Francis, 1 1 

How Diplomats Make War, 5 
Neumann, Franz 
Behemoth, 62 

New American Right, The (Bell), 155 
New Conservatism, 159, 164 

New Deal, xi, 203 
advent of, xi, 23 

and emergence of Old Right, 23-32 
and foreign and isolationism, 33 
as fascism, 47 
as revolution, 30 
attitude of Communist Party 
toward, 24 

attitude toward of socialists and 
progressives, 24 

comparison with Hoover’s cartelist 
program, 24 

comparison with Prohibition, 27 
drive of toward war, 40 
perception of as fascism, 2 3 
New Frontier, 203 
New Individualist Review, 176 

decision not to discuss foreign pol- 
icy, 178 

New Leader, 10, 131, 132, 155 
New Left, 192 

and Old Right, xvi 
demise of, 201 
emergence of, 191 
end of alliance with, 201 
late Sixties, 191 
New Party, 142 

New Pattern for a Tired World, A 
(Bromfield), 127 

New Republic, 25, 36, 44, 88, 93, 94, 
100, 171 
New Right 

attitude toward Supreme Court, 

emergence of, 1955, 141 
triumph of and National Review, 

vs. Old Right, 1-2 
New York 

political climate in during World 
War II, 56 
New York Post, 175 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

New York Public Library, 75 
New York Sun, 150 

New York Times, 42, 68, 106, 119, 153 
New York University, 73, 145 
Graduate School of Business, 
Mises, 67 

New York World Telegram, 35 
Nixon, Richard M., 123, 175, 202, 


NLRB. See National Labor Relations 

No Treason (Spooner), 75 
Nock, Albert Jay, xi, 11, 18, 25, 53, 

68, 71, 82, 185, 192 
after World War II, 57 
as elitist, 28 

attitude toward Soviet Union, 1 1 
Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, 60 
Myth of a Guilty Nation, 5 
Our Enemy, the State, 19 
sacking of for anti-war position, 36 
Theory of Education in the United 
States, 28 

North Atlantic Treaty Organization 
(NATO), 87, 91 

NRA. See National Recovery Act 
Nye Committee, 3 3 

Office of Price Administration (OPA), 

Oglesby, Carl, xvii, 200 

Containment and Change, 196 
Old Left, 29 

experience of World War II, 54 
Old Right 

after World War II, 117 

cooperation with New Left, xvi, 

background, xi 

creation of, xi, 26 

decline of, xv, 127-46 

decline of libertarian wing of, 143 

definition of, xxi, 2 

demise of, 117 

New Deal and emergence of, xi, 
origins of 

early Individualism, 3-8 
Tory Anarchism of Mencken 
and Nock, 9-22 
propaganda, xv 
vs. new right, 1-2 
Omnipotent Government (Mises), 61 
On That Day Began Lies (essay), 78n 
OPA. See Office of Price Administration 
Oppenheimer, Franz 
State, The, 18 

Our Enemy, the State (Nock), 19, 57 
Owens, Hamilton, 15 


condemned as Communism, 33 
Palmer, Paul, 27, 36 
Parris Island 

death march at, 133 
Paterson, Isabel, xi 

God of the Machine, The, 59 
Peace and Freedom Party, 200 
Peace and Freedom Party (PFP), 197 
Pearl Harbor (attack), 36, 151 
revisionism, 82 

Pearl Harbor: Story of a Secret War 
(Morgenstern), 101 
peasant movements, 186 
Pegler, Westbrook, 118 
Pelley, William Dudley, 45 
Pentagon, 107 

People or Personnel (Goodman), 194 
perpetual war 

as concomitant of inflation, 107 
Pew, J. Howard, 83 
PFP. See Peace and Freedom Party 
PL. See Progressive Labor Party 
Plain Talk, 150 


22 7 

Plan or No Plan (Wootton), 63 
Point of Order (D’Antonio), 153 
Poirot, Paul, 66 
Polanyi, Michael, 62 
political spectrum 
shifting of, 148 

political spectrum during early Sixties 
political spectrum during, 173-90 
Politics, 58 

politics and foreign policy 
in postwar renaissance, 85 
Popper, Karl, 62 
Popular Front, 24 

line of Communist Party, 54 
populists, 3 
postwar renaissance 
libertarianism, 65 
postwar renaissance 

demise of Old Right in, 117 
libertarians and foreign policy, 103 
politics and foreign policy, 85 
Preface, xxi 

Prejudice and the Press (Hughes), 121 
presidential election 
of 1924, 16 
of 1940, 38 
of 1948, 139 
of 1952, 123 
of 1956, 141, 142 

Progressive Labor Movement, 195 
Progressive Labor Party (PL), 198 
Progressive Party, 87, 93 
prohibition, 9 

absence from New Right, 160 
pro-war sentiment 

alignment with foreign invest- 
ments, 38 

Putnam, Samuel, 10 
Queens College, 189 

Radosh, Ronald, xvi 
Raico, Ralph, 176 
Raimondo, Justin, iv 
Rampart College, 188 
Ramparts Press, xxii 
Rand, Ayn, 185 

Fountainhead, The, 58 
Read, Leonard E., 57, 66, 67, 145 
“Conscience on the Batdefield,” 110 
“Students of Liberty,” 77 
attitude toward anarchism, 77 
Government — An Ideal Concept 
(1954), 78 

member of Spiritual Mobilization, 82 
Reconstruction Finance Corporation 
(RFC), 25 
red-baiting, 147 
Reece Committee, 119, 121 
Reed, James A., 4, 12 
Regnery, Henry, 58, 137 
Reisman, George, 156 
Republican National Committee, 82 
Republican Party, 12, 124, 151 
Rothbard abandons, 123 
Resch, H. George, 80 
American, 3 
French, 3 

RFC. See Reconstruction Finance 

Rhodes Scholar Revisionism, 119 
Ritchie, Albert, 12 
Road to Reaction (Hermann), 63 
Road to Serfdom, The (Hayek), 62 
Rockefeller Foundation, 119 
Rockwell, Lew, xxiv 
Roosevelt, Franklin D. 

attitude of Jewish voters toward, 43 
Roosevelt, Theodore, 23 
Rosen, Jake, 199 


Rosenthal, Danny, 193 
Rote Fahne , Die, 133 
Rothbard, Murray N. 

America's Great Depression, ix 
An Austrian Perspective on the His- 
tory of Economic Thought, x 
Conceived in Liberty, ix 
Ethics of Liberty, The, ix 
History of Money and Banking in the 
United State, A, x 
For A New Liberty, ix 
“Foreign Policy of the Old Right, 
The,” xxiii 

Irrepressible Rothbard, The, x 
“Law, Property Rights, and Air 
Pollution,” ix 

“Left and Right the Prospects for 
Liberty,” 193 

“Liberty and the New Left,” 193 
Logic of Action, The, x 
“Toward a Reconstruction of Util- 
ity and Welfare Economics,” ix 
Making Economic Sense, x 
Man, Economy, and State, ix, 80 
Wall Street, Banks, and American 
Foreign Policy, x 

abandons association with right 
wing, 174 

autobiographical remarks, 56, 73, 
122, 132, 142, 153, 197 
background, ix-xi 
becomes libertarian, 68 
break with National Review, 173 
called Communist by “libertari- 
ans,” 143 

called communist sympathizer, 132 
embraces Austrian economics, 73 
nom de plume, 131 
reaction to Korean War, 114 
Rothbard-Rockwell Report, x, xi 

The Betrayal of the American Right 
Roy, Ralph Lord 

Apostles of Discord: A Study of Orga- 
nized Bigotry and Disruption on 
the Fringes of Protestantism , 81 
Rusher, Bill, 86, 167 
Russell, Dean, 113 
Russian Social Democratic Federa- 
tion, 154 

Santa Ana Register, 5 8 
Sargent, Noel, 117 
Saturday Evening Post, 43 
Savings bonds, 7 1 
Savio, Mario, 193 
Sawyer, Dan, 141 
Schachtmanites, 198 
Scharfenberger, Ed, 142 
Schine, S. David, 156 
Schlamm, William S., 133, 135, 150 
Schlesinger, Jr., Arthur, 39, 164 
Schuchman, Robert M., 168 
Scribner’s Commentator, 36 
Seale, Bobby, 200 

Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 
104, 140 

Shakespeare, Frank, 202 
Sherwood, Robert E., 44 
Siler, Eugene R., 133 
Simpson, Sockless Jerry, 21 
Sixteenth Amendment, 142 

political spectrum during, 173-90 
Sixties, late 

New Left in, 191-206 
Smear Terror, The (Flynn), 42 
Smith Act, 45, 149, 151 
social power 

vs. state power, 2 1 
social science 

critique of value-free, 120 
Socialism (Mises), 150 



Socialist Party 
Wisconsin, 152 
socialists, 3, 6 

Sokolsky, George E., 150, 152 
Sorokin, Pitrim A., 121 
Southeast Asia 

U.S. policy in, 125 
Soviet Union, 54, 94, 130, 159 

“collective security” campaign of, 34 
drive of New Right for war with, 169 
propaganda and, xiv, 
Spanish-American War, 4 
Spiritual Mobilization, 81, 82, 143 
Spooner, Lysander, 75 

Letter to Grover Cleveland , 7 5 
No Treason, 75 

SST (supersonic transport), 204 
Standard, The, 188 
State Department, 104 
state power 

vs. social power, 2 1 
state, the 

as creator of antagonistic classes, 2 1 
State, The (Oppenheimer), 18 

big business’s role in, 2 1 
Stevenson, Adlai, 123, 143, 175 
Stigler, George J., 65 
Stimson, Henry Lewis 

appointment as Secretary of War, 38 
Stone, I.F., 93 
Stout, Wesley N., 43 
Stromberg, Joseph R. 

master’s thesis by, xxiii 
Stuart, R. Douglas, 39 
Students for a Democratic Society 
(SDS), xvii, 191, 195, 200 
Students for America (SFA), 145, 156 
Students for Thurmond Club, 87 
Sumner, William Graham 

opposition to Spanish-American 
War, 4 

Sun Oil Company, 83 
Supreme Court, 30 

1937 attempt to “pack,” 29 
attitude of New Right toward, 166 
Swope Plan, 24 
Swope, Gerard, 24 
Syngman Rhee, 92 

Taft, Robert A., xiii, xvi, 38, 39, 85, 

86, 90, 93, 100, 117, 122, 139, 147 
criticism of Cold War, xiii 
predicts Vietnam War, 124 
Taft-Hartley Act, 118 
Taiwan. See Formosa 

as theft, 69 

Templeton, Jr., Kenneth S., 80 
Theory of Education in the United States 
(Nock), 28 

Thomas, Norman, 151 
Thompson, Dorothy, 41 
Those Who Protest (LeFevre), 187 
Thurmond, Strom, 87 

advantage of to capitalism, 134 
Time, 41, 150 
Tolstoy, Leo 

Law of Love and the Law of Violence, 
The, 77 

Tory Anarchism of Mencken and Nock 
as origin of Old Right, 9-22 
“Toward a Reconstruction of Utility 
and Welfare Economics” (Roth- 
bard), ix 

Tragedy of American Diplomacy, The 
(Williams), 180 

Triumph of Conservatism, The (Kolko), 
29, 185 

Trotskyites, 198 

Truman Doctrine, 87, 88, 89, 93 
Truman, Harry S., xiii, 53, 86, 93, 


The Betrayal of the American Right 

Tucker, Benjamin R., 75 
Tugwell, Rex, 24 
Tydings, Millard E., 82 

U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 24 
U.S. Constitution, 19 
U.S. Information Agency (USIA), 202 
Under Cover (Carlson), 42 
Union Theological Seminary, 81 
United Nations, 92, 132 
University of Chicago 

Committee on Social Thought, 67 
University of Kansas, 188, 194 
University of North Carolina, 194 
University of Virginia, 28 
University of Wisconsin, 185 

Vandenberg, Arthur, 86 
Versailles Treaty, 6, 23, 33, 34 
Veterans of Foreign Wars, 65 
Viereck, Peter 

“Revolt against the Elite, The,” 157 
congeniality with Establishment, 164 
Vietnam Teach-In movement, 195 
Vietnam War, 201 
opposition to, 191 
prediction of by Taft, 125 
Viet-Report, 195 

Villard, Oswald Garrison, 5, 10, 41 
expulsion from Nation, 35 
Volker, William, 67 

Wagner Act, 117 

Wall Street, Banks, and American For- 
eign Policy (Rothbard), x 
Wall Street Journal, 131 

Rothbard publishes letter in, 175 
Wallace, Henry, 41, 87, 89 

opposition to during, 191 
and peace question, xvi 

War powers 

attempt of Congress to retain, 94 
Warren, Earl, 123 
Warsaw TrybunaLudu, 132 
Watts, Orval, 66 
Webster, Nesta, 33 
Weimar Republic 

as embryo of fascism, 62 
Weir, Ernest T., 132 

“Leaving Emotions Out of Foreign 
Policy,” 130 
Welch, Robert, 117 
Werdel, Thomas H., 142 
Western Europe 

Soviet threat to, 136 
Wheeler, Burton K., 33 
Wherry, Kenneth, xiii, 94 
White man’s burden, 110 
Wiley, Alexander, 126, 140 
William Volker Company, 67 
William Volker Fund, 67, 80, 81, 82, 
169, 178 

association of Rothbard with, 80 
Williams, Roger, 3 

Williams, William Appleman, xvi, xvii, 

Contours of American History, The, 180 
Tragedy of American Diplomacy, The, 

Willkie, Wendell, 38 
Wills, Garry, 161 
Wilson, Woodrow, 6 
Winchell, Walter, 41, 46 
women authors, xi, 59 
Wood, Robert B. 

called fascist by W. Winchell, 41 
Wood, Robert E., 39, 45 
Wootton, Barbara 
Plan or No Plan, 63 
World War I 

American objection to, 5 
effect of aftermath on American 
culture, 9 



World War II 

nadir of Old Right, 53 
World-Telegram, 86 
Wormser, Rene, 119 
Wright, Gridley, 165 

Young Americans for Freedom, 167 
.54 Sharon Statement of, 168 

Young Republican Club, 122 
Young Republican Club of New York, 

Youth for Taft, 145 

The Betrayal of the American Flight is more than just a history of 
the Old Right or of the anti-interventionist tradition in America. It is 
the story of Murray Rothbard’s own political and intellectual devel- 
opment: the books he read, the people he met, the friends he 
made, the organizations he joined, and so much more. 

Rothbard’s intellectual evolution begins as a young boy and car- 
ries through his time in Ludwig von Mises’s NYU seminar, his 
early writing career and his libertarian activism, all the way 
through his interaction with the New Left in the 1960s. We accom- 
pany Rothbard during the moment when he discovers he can no 
longer be a minimal state libertarian, or minarchist, and we learn 
exactly what it was that led him into anarchism. He discusses his 
evolving political allegiances in the 1950s in light of his resolute 
noninterventionism, and his attraction to the forbidden subject of 
Cold War revisionism. 

The Betrayal of the American Right fills a crucial gap both in the 
history of American foreign policy as well as in the histories of 
American conservatism and libertarianism. 

Thomas E. Woods, Jr. holds degrees from Harvard and Columbia 
University. His books include the New York Times bestseller The 
Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, The Church and 
the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy, and 33 
Questions About American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask 

518 West Magnolia Avenue 
Auburn, Alabama 36832